[R] R cairo_pdf function does not respect plotting boundaries

Lee Steven Kelvin |@ke|v|n @end|ng |rom ucd@v|@@edu
Thu Feb 28 20:13:47 CET 2019

Hello all,

When producing a plot in R using the cairo_pdf device, the resultant plot does not respect the plotting boundaries. Lines and shaded regions will spill over the lower x-axis and the right-side y-axis (sides 1 and 4). I would like to know if it is possible to fix this behaviour when using 'cairo_pdf' in R?

As an example, see the image at this web link: https://i.stack.imgur.com/0lfZd.png

This image is a screenshot of a PDF file constructed using the following minimum working example code:

cairo_pdf(file="test.pdf", width=0.5, height=0.5)
plot(NA, xlim=c(0,1), ylim=c(0,1), axes=FALSE)
polygon(x=c(-1,-1,2,2), y=c(-1,2,2,-1), density=5, col="green3", lwd=10)
abline(h=0.25, col="red", lwd=5)
abline(h=0.75, col="hotpink", lwd=5, lend=1)
abline(v=0.25, col="blue", lwd=5)
abline(v=0.75, col="cyan", lwd=5, lend=1)

Here I'm plotting a shaded region in green using 'polygon', with boundaries that lie outside the plot. I'm also drawing two sets of horizontal/vertical lines using 'abline'. The first in each pair uses standard rounded line caps, whilst the second in each pair uses butt line caps.

As you can see, the shading lines and the default rounded-end ablines all extend beyond the plotting region along the lower and right-hand side axes. Only when using 'lend=1' am I able to contain the ablines to the plotting region. I know of no such fix for the shading lines however.

I would naively expect the R plotting region to be respected, and for it to be impossible to plot outside of this region unless explicitly specified by the user.

I have tested this on the other cairo devices (SVG and PS), and also reproduce the same behaviour, indicating that this is an issue with the cairo graphics API, or its implementation within R.

This behaviour does not occur when using the standard R 'pdf' graphics device. I would switch to 'pdf' in general, however, 'cairo_pdf' has several advantages over 'pdf', notably, reduced output file sizes on occasion and support for a larger array of UTF-8 characters, so ideally I would prefer to use cairo_pdf.

I should note that I have also posted this message on StackOverflow at this web link: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/54892809/r-cairo-pdf-function-does-not-respect-plotting-boundaries

Thank you in advance for any insights into this issue.

Lee Kelvin

Dr Lee Kelvin
Department of Physics
UC Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Ph: +1 (530) 752-1500
Fax: +1 (530) 752-4717

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