Technical Articles and Newsletters

MATLAB Central: Find the Right File Fast

By Ned Gulley, MathWorks

With more than 5,000 files, the MATLAB Central File Exchange can dramatically reduce your coding time—assuming that you can find the right file. File Exchange Toolbox makes searching for, installing, and trying out code from the File Exchange easy.

Chances are that when you realize you need a particular file, you’re already using MATLAB. It’s distracting to leave MATLAB to open your Web browser and search for a file. And once you’ve found one, you still need to download it, extract it (if it’s a ZIP-file archive), and select a directory to store it in. The fxsearch command in File Exchange Toolbox lets you search the File Exchange directly from MATLAB. The fxdownload command automates the process of extracting and storing the archive.

Suppose I’m looking for a file that will create three-dimensional (3-D) arrowheads. I type the MATLAB command fxsearch arrowhead and bring up a Web page that lists all the files that match my search criteria.

If a file interests me, I click Download. The file is immediately downloaded and unpacked in a local directory. As I’m downloading the submission, File Exchange Toolbox updates an index of all my locally stored File Exchange files.

Of the various arrow-related submissions, I find that Shawn Arseneau’s “3D Arrow with many color/parameter options” (File ID 12274) is the best match for my needs, since it has colorful cylinder-and-cone arrows that look good when illuminated.

Other links let you go to the file’s review page, delete a file, or list the 15 most popular and 15 most recently submitted files—all without leaving the MATLAB environment.

Click on image to see enlarged view.

Published 2007