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DRAWXTL(1) DRAWxtl User Manual DRAWXTL(1)


drawxtl - display crystal structures on ordinary computer hardware


drawxtl [filename]


drawxtl reads a basic description of the crystal structure, which includes unit-cell parameters, space group, atomic coordinates, thermal parameters or a Fourier map, and outputs a geometry object that contains polyhedra, planes, lone-pair cones, spheres or ellipsoids, bonds, iso-surface Fourier contours and the unit-cell boundary.

Four forms of graphics are produced:

  • an OpenGL window for immediate viewing
  • the Persistence of Vision Ray Tracer (POV-RAY) scene language for publication-quality drawings
  • the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) for dissemination across the Internet
  • Postscript rendering of the OpenGL window for those who want high-quality output but do not have POV-RAY installed


There are no command line options to use.


Per user configuration file.

A short tutorial about this file and configuring drawxtl is available online at


When opening a structures (.str) file, drawxtl needs write permissions in the directory the file is located in. Otherwise it will return an error ("Cannot open structures files.").


A FAQ and a manual are available online in PDF and HTML format at the DRAWxtl homepage at


Please cite DRAWxtl as follows:

Larry W. Finger, Martin Kroeker, and Brian H. Toby, DRAWxtl, an open-source computer program to produce crystal-structure drawings, J. Applied Crystallography V40, pp. 188-192, 2007.

An electronic reprint is available online at


Author of the program and the former version called “crystal”.
Author of the original POV and VRML modifications.
Author of the Fourier-contour code.
Manpage author for the Debian system.


Copyright © 2007-2009 Daniel Leidert

This manual page was written for the Debian system (but may be used by others).

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 or (at your option) any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

2009/09/27 drawxtl