In this lecture, we will learn to create Matlab scripts ("M-files") that allow use to run a series of commands in a much quicker and easier way.
We will then use this new tool to demonstrate how we can take a set of data from an input file, import that data into Matlab, have Matlab plot the data, and finally save it as a JPEG image, all in "one motion".
The first part of this lecture is a demonstration of the usage and capabilities of scripting.
The second part of class will be an in-class assignment where you can learn this new skill by playing with a dataset of a recent earthquake swarm in Yellowstone National Park.
How to access the ASU M-drive and set it as your working directory
The advantage of "scripting" vs. "command line" is that you can give Matlab hundreds to thousands of commands by just typing the name of your saved script.
Scripting in Matlab is done by using the Matlab Editor.
The Editor is Matlab's built-in text editor.
You will type the same kinds of commands that we have been typing on the command line.
You will want to keep one command per line!
You will also want to remember to end each line with a semicolon to suppress the output.
Matlab scripts are also called "M-files".
This is because they have the ".m" ending.
Matlab will recognize ALL files with ".m" as scripts to run commands.
To open the Editor window, click the icon at the top of the Matlab GUI , or type edit.
We can type the last commands from Lecture 3 into the Editor.
We want to load the input file into Matlab, plot the river discharge data, add a title and axis labels, and then save the figure to a JPEG.
Save the script to an M-file. We can call this script daily_discharge.m. To run this script, type daily_discharge at the prompt in the Command Window.
The above script is functional, but if we were to pass this off to another person, it would take them some time to figure out what the script does if they run it.
This is where commenting comes in VERY handy.
To place comments within a script that you write, you will use the percent sign, %.
All text in that line after % will turn green and will be a comment.
Here is that same script, but now it is properly commented.
Kevin's Tips For Proper Commenting
Write your comments first, EVEN before you start writing the code/commands
Header Section - This is at the very top of your script
First line: NAME_OF_SCRIPT
Second part: Short description of what the script does
Third part: Author, date created, last date it was updated
Separate the script into logical parts by making "breaks" with comment lines
You can never be too descriptive!
Video explanation of scripting
The following two demos use the command line to illustrate the commands, but you should build these in scripts.
These examples use seismicity data from Bolivia. Here is the file for you to practice: seisformatlab.txt. The columns are: Date Latitude Longitude Depth Magnitude.
Video explanation of how to load data and make a map
Video explanation of how to load data and make a histogram