File Exchange Pick of the Week

Our best user submissions

What is your favorite unrecognized File Exchange submission? 22

Posted by Brett Shoelson,


This week, instead of Picking one of my favorite files, I'm going to solicit your suggestions for Pickworthy files. Except on rare occasions, I tend to select submissions that are useful to my own workflows. But I recognize that many of you use MATLAB and Simulink differently than I do, and in different fields. So here's your chance to recognize something that you particularly like.

You make the call!

Respond to this post with suggestions for future Picks. What have you found most useful? Perhaps you've found some overlooked gems? Something you think would have broad appeal, if they only knew about it? And if Jiro or I end up selecting a file as a Pick of the Week based on your suggestion, we'll send you some cool MATLAB swag!

A couple ground rules.

  • Please don't steer to your own file. (We may have another round of this later, in which we allow contributors to nominate their own files, but for this round, let's focus on recognizing the work of our fellow MATLAB or Simulink fans.)
  • Please only suggest files that are covered under the BSD!
  • Submissions should be exemplary for some reason that you can point out. Is it just beautifully written? Have you found it exceptionally useful? Great use of visual elements? (Tell us what it was that led you to select a particular file. We may even quote you!)
  • Your nomination constitutes your acknowledgment that we may quote you, and your permission to do so.
  • Please don't suggest any files that have already been Picked. (All previous Picks of the Week are tagged on their entries with a POTW stamp.)
  • Remember: cool MATLAB swag to anyone who steers us to a file we use!
  • Please direct your correspondences to the comments section of this post.
  • Happy hunting!
  • Sorry, one more rule: we're only going to consider files that don't use undocumented functionality.

Get the MATLAB code

Published with MATLAB® 7.14


Comments are closed.

22 CommentsOldest to Newest

Frank Engel replied on : 1 of 22

Ooh, I like this POTW, and I expect that I will find many useful additions to my workflows from the comments!

I have a few submissions that I use in my own work, which I think others may find useful.

First, I really like John D’Errico’s arclength code. This simple function determines the arclength of a curve in space using a variety of methods. There is something about a bit of code which is so well commented and written you actually learn something. This is an excellent bit of code writing, and the work he did to explain the operations has been more than helpful to me when developing my own code using splines for a host of problems related to my work.

Next, I nominate tight_subplot. This handy function allows for a robust (and simpler) handling of subplot objects. I especially like how easy it is to control the margins and gaps to produce multiple subplots that don’t waste space. It’s been a life saver for presentation quality plots!

Finally, I nominate getcon. Unfortunately, the author has not specified a BSD license, so it’s out of the running, but I’ll still plug its handiness anyway! This little function will give the coordinates of contour slices through your data. VERY handy for those times when you might like to manipulate exactly where your contours lie. I’ve personally used it to create functions of discrete data and perform gradient descents- without getcon I’d have had a terrible time otherwise!

bshoelso replied on : 3 of 22

Excellent! I’m pleased to see the responses starting to come in, and I promise that we’ll consider them all–except for Michael’s GETCON, which (as you mentioned, Frank, is not covered by the BSD license). (If you’re listening, Michael, and care to add that license agreement to your file, we’ll take a look at that one, too!)
Thanks, Brett

Chad Greene replied on : 4 of 22

Zohar Bar-Yehuda’s plot_google_map (file #27627) is not only cool, it’s also very easy to use and incredibly useful for plotting spatial data.

Gunnar Aronsen replied on : 5 of 22

If have found this file very usefull and have implemented it in a program used every day within our organization.

“Edit plotted data with mouse” by Jimmy Shen

Very helpfull property when no MatLab-user need to manipulate data within a program made with MatLab.

Sven Körner replied on : 6 of 22

I like to nominate Yair Altman with the “findjobj”. (
The code is very useful and extends the range of Matlab. It is well written and good commented.

My second proposal is jcontrol (e.g.: from Malcom Lidierth.
I often use this function to spice up my GUIs with javacomponents.

Duane Hanselman replied on : 7 of 22

All submissions in the File Exchange from John D’Errico. John knows what can go wrong numerically with even simple algorithms. His submissions consistently minimize or eliminate such numerical issues. Besides that, many of his submissions are substantial contributions. Every one meets or exceeds the quality of code that is distributed with MATLAB. In fact, I found one of his submissions hidden behind the scenes in MATLAB itself as a private function called by a distributed MATLAB function.

bshoelso replied on : 8 of 22

SORRY, folks…I have one more rule to add: for our Picks, we’re going to restrict our attention to submissions that don’t used undocumented functionality–Brett

Sven Körner replied on : 9 of 22

Oh Brett, that means that I must withdraw the nomination!?
Maybe The MathWorks or you allow undocumented features in a next round later…
You should do so, because there is a lot of very cool undocumented stuff. – Sven

bshoelso replied on : 13 of 22

Hi all,
Watch for the first “community-suggested” POTW selection tomorrow. (Someone will win some swag! :))

Duane, Yair, others: I’m very familiar with Urs’ contributions, and John’s. Great stuff! (In fact, they’ve both had multiple files Picked already.) For our purposes here, we’re looking for submissions, not contributors, to recommend.

Thanks, all. Keep the suggestions coming!!!

bshoelso replied on : 15 of 22

Thanks, LL. Export_fig is a previous Pick of the Week. We’re looking for recommendations for new (i.e., previously unrecognized) Picks.

Tek replied on : 17 of 22

cell2float has been very useful to me lately. It’s simple but handy when you need to convert a cell array with different data types. I originally found it because I needed a way to handle empty cells.

Marco replied on : 19 of 22

Someone might find struct2str somewhat useful. It allows to “convert” a struct into a string and copy it to a listbox, for easy copying the fields to the clipboard. Feedbacks are welcome!

bshoelso replied on : 21 of 22

Bjorn replied on July 13th, 2012 at 09:10 UTC [edit]:
Since we all surely use emacs for programming, the emacs matlab mode is ubiquitous. Therefore this is a given:
There are two arrow-plotting functions I use, and since the one have been a potw, I hope the other might get selected too:
When I work with data that has nans in them this inpainting tool makes them go away: (it is a FEX-selec but have not been a potw)
Sometimes it is useful to plot colour-coded curves, for this this function slots in seamlessly as a replacement to plot:
To keep figures traceable: This function makes it automatic to keep track of how figures have been produced.
Sometimes it is necessary to extract data from figures. This is the best digitization tool I’ve found:
The tcolor function nicely extends surf/pcolor to make it simple to wrap RGB-images onto arbitrary surfaces:
To merge structs the catstruct function is very handy: