Tools, Not Just For Research

2 minute read


Our research can be assisted by many useful and easy-to-use tools, for producing fancy figures, creating demonstration video, writing Latex efficiently. There are also many tools to make our everyday work much easier. This page summarizes some useful tools that I am using. Most importantly, most of them are free.


We strongly recommend to use vector figures for academic publication because of the good resolution. Here is a brief but good explanation about the difference between the bitmap and vector figures.

The only exceptions to use bitmap in academic publication are the photos of experimental setup and authors’ biographies.

Below are some tools to prepare good-looking vector figures.

Matlab Export Figure

Matlab On-figure magnifier

Drawing Diagrams -


If you have the license for Visio, this is a great tool to create flowcharts and diagrams.




Please refer to the other post for Latex



This is a quite handy and powerful text editor. It is free and you can download it from here.

  • Plugin: It has abundant plugins to expand the features. Some useful plugins are explained in this link.
  • Find in files, tutorial and a YouTube Tutorial.

Github Pages

If you wish to build a personal page that looks professional, I strongly suggest you to use Github Pages. For more information, please refer to another post.

Github Desktop


A very small but handy tool to search all the files and folders in your PC. Free download from here. You don’t have to remember where you store your files any more. Simply search by some words of the file names.

Google Chrome to unlock PDF file

Some PDF files are locked and cannot be annotated. This can be solved by Google Chorme. Firstly, use Chrome to open the pdf file. Then use the Print function to save it to your PC. The new saved file should be editable.