App Slow With UIAxes

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Ephraim Bryski
Ephraim Bryski on 4 Aug 2020
Commented: Eduardo Vicente Wolf Trentini on 5 Dec 2023 at 17:37
Hi. I'm creating apps on app designer which use components such as sliders to control a plot. When plotting on a UIAxes, there is significant delay. However, when having the app plot on a separate figure, there is no delay. Does anyone know the reason for this and if there's a way to plot on the UIAxes without the delay? Thanks.
I'm going to use an app modelling a cylinder removing a lot of the additional unnecessary stuff, so the type of problem is as clear as possible. The plot consists of surf, patch, and plot3. For all apps, the goal is not plotting data per say, but rather creating shapes, often in 3 dimensions. Therefore, the data is generally arrays of type double which don't generally get over 100 elements.
I'm using MATLAB R2020a.
These are the two methods:
  • I drag and drop a UIAxes on to the app and plot on that axis. This takes about 3 seconds to update the plot each time I move the slider. This is a screenshot of the setup:
  • I create a separate regular figure (not uifigure) and plot it on that. This has almost no delay:
This is the code used to create the separate figure and have them aligned neatly (I don't think it's that important but it clarifies what I'm doing):
global ax %needed so it can be accessed through component callbacks
divide=.2;%the fraction of the screen filled by the app
fig=figure; %new figure
ax=axes(fig); %axis it will be plotted on
Here is the code which I used (I removed much of the code used in the original app to simplify things) (the code is based off of Clay M. Thompson's cylinder function, and I kept the copyright text in the code):
function torsion(ax,ax2,M,G,L,r,display_in)
% Clay M. Thompson 4-24-91, CBM 8-21-92.
% Copyright 1984-2002 The MathWorks, Inc.
% engineering equations:
% set up cylinder:
n = 50;
r = [r r]';
r = r(:); % Make sure r is a vector.
m = length(r); if m==1, r = [r;r]; m = 2; end
theta = (0:n)/n*2*pi;
sintheta = sin(theta); sintheta(n+1) = 0;
x = r * cos(theta);
y = r * sintheta;
z = (0:m-1)'/(m-1) *L* ones(1,n+1);
% plot cylinder
patch(ax,x(1,:),y(1,:),z(1,:),[.25 0 .7])
patch(ax,x(1,:),y(1,:),z(2,:),[.25 0 .7])
%plot helices
for i=0:n-1
% plot circles
for i=z_vals
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 25 Mar 2021
Edited: Adam Danz on 25 Mar 2021
Good thinking to time them that way, J. Alex Lee.
Actually, the creation of figures and axes can be completely separated if the tic/toc only surrounds either the figure creation of the axes creation with a drawnow preceeding the creation.
J. Alex Lee
J. Alex Lee on 25 Mar 2021
thanks @Adam Danz, I think I actually confused everyone with my above posted...the way I separated was to create the figures once and for all, and then keep deleting and creating axes inside them - so the plot I showed only reflects axes creation time, and the conclusion from that should not be "ime is really spent by the uifigure call", but rather that creating uiaxes and axes alike within an existing uifigure is slower than creating them within an existing regular figure.
And the second time test I did shows that actually, plotting might be faster within uiaxes than in regular axes once they are created, whether it be within a uifigure or a regular figure. but either way, plotting is still much faster on uiaxes or axes created in a normal figure.

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Accepted Answer

Chris Portal
Chris Portal on 7 Aug 2020
Thank you @Adam Danz and @Ephraim Bryski. The additional info is useful. I see the same uifigure/uiaxes slowness Adam is showing.
Ephraim, try using a uifigure/axes combination instead. This shows similar performance results to the figure/axes combination:
  • UIFIGURE/UIAXES: Elapsed time is 1.871439 seconds.
  • UIFIGURE/AXES: Elapsed time is 0.205658 seconds.
  • FIGURE/AXES: Elapsed time is 0.204895 seconds.
A few notes:
  • UIAXES is a heavier weight version of AXES (it's effectively an axes with an invisible UI panel). This makes it slower, although the amount of slowness here is a little surprising. I'll report this to the development team to investigate.
  • The axes you get in App Designer when you drag and drop from the palette is always a UIAXES. So in order to use an AXES with your UIFIGURE, you'll need to manually create and position it as part of your startup function.
  • Lastly, these UIAXES/AXES differences will soon become a much simpler story with some up and coming work. Keep an eye out for the MATLAB release notes!
Nathan Duisterhof
Nathan Duisterhof on 24 Oct 2023
Testing on 2023b, and the issue is still present. No matter what I try, any axes I add to AppDesigner, no matter the method, updates atleast 5x slower then doing that same update with figure. There is a slight improvement to switch to axes instead of UIAxes though it is not nearly enough for what I am trying to do.
Florent on 23 Nov 2023 at 10:42
"these UIAXES/AXES differences will soon become a much simpler story with some up and coming work. Keep an eye out for the MATLAB release notes!"
--> Would it be possible to have more details on this in 2023 ?
Using 2023b, UIAxes / Axes can not be used in AppDesigner because it's super slow. This prevents me from migrating an entire application to app designer, since the test teams prefer the original application and don't consider the new one usable.

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More Answers (3)

Matlab User
Matlab User on 21 Mar 2021
Edited: Matlab User on 21 Mar 2021
I just installed Matlab R2021a and this is still not resolved - the jaw dropping UIAxis lag is still there. Maybe it was a mistake to fork Guide into a new thing...
@Chris Portal It seems no-one can reproduce your solution. Are you sure that you did not simply time FIGURE/AXES twice? Could you please share your code if it works for you.
I'm using some code like below (not full):
ax_id = app.UIAxes;
an = animatedline(ax_id, 'MaximumNumPoints',1000);
for i=1:1:100000
addpoints(an, x(i), y(i));
if (rem(i,100) == 0)
if i>=1000
xlim (ax_id, [i-1000+1 i]);
xlim (ax_id, [1 i]);
drawnow limitrate
Here are some timings:
  • No plotting: 60s
  • Standard Figure + axes: 63s
  • UIaxes only: 84s
I hope this will be resolved in the future - many many threads with complaints, but nothing has been done.

Veronica Taurino
Veronica Taurino on 2 May 2022
Are there any speed-improvements in Matlab 2021b? If so, I still struggle to find it by myself

martin nguyen
martin nguyen on 5 Dec 2023 at 14:29
Edited: martin nguyen on 5 Dec 2023 at 16:31
Hello everybody,
I have found a way to improve the speed of interactions with a uifigure/uiaxe application. This is not optimal but for me, it does the trick. The solution is to open a figure very small at the start of the application. The figure is in the left bottom corner of my application and I can minimize it (it is working minimized or not).
And all you have to do is to make sure that the figure remains while you are on your application. I did a bit of code to make sure the figure cannot be deleted by clicking on the cross and I make sure it is deleted when I close the application. In my application, I display meshes and the interactions with the pointer are now far better with the figure opened.
I guess, when I open the figure, the uifigure inherit some properties of the figure and that could be the reason, this is faster but I'm not sure.
Martin Nguyen
  1 Comment
Eduardo Vicente Wolf Trentini
Eduardo Vicente Wolf Trentini on 5 Dec 2023 at 17:37
Let me see if I understand correctly. Does your issue improve if you have another figure open? Here's a video of my application, and you can see that even with another figure open, the response time still remains very slow.

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