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plotting free form ascii data


I'm attempting to write a gui script to plot free form ascii data.
I've utilized the ascii_template and read_ascii functions but the
program hangs after hitting finished on the ascii_template gui and
returns an error:

% READ_ASCII: File name must be a string.
% Execution halted at:  READ_ASCII        792
%                       PLOTINTERACTIVE_READ   31
%                       XMANAGER_EVLOOP_STANDARD  478
%                       XMANAGER          708
%                       PLOTINTERACTIVE   209
%                       $MAIN$

I'm using a variable name xdata, very simple and yes, a string. What

Also, I'm curious as to the best way to pass this to the PLOT

Any suggestions welcome,