View Full Version : Summary I: Scientific graphing

Jane Clark
07-20-1995, 01:30 AM
Sorry to take so long, but here is a collation of the replies I received
after posting the
following request:
On June 21, I posted the following:

Our lab would be interested in others experience with Windows-based
scientific graphing programs (e.g. SigmaPlot, Stanford Graphics, Axum,
PSI-Plot, etc). We have been using PSI-Plot (DOS) with a good deal of
success -- except for a couple of quirks. We are looking to enhance our
capabilities and would be interested in others opinions of graphing programs
on the market.
************************************************** *** REPLIES
Hi Jane,

I've been using Kaleidagraph for the Mac for several years now despite the
fact that 99% of my data are generated via PC applications. The
Kaleidagraph program takes full advantage of the Mac environment and is
fully compatible with various other Mac applications including Word. I've
had a great deal of success with creating a graph in Kaleidagraph and
pasting it into a word document on the Mac and later bringing up the
document and graph on the PC.

I've also had experience with SigmaPlot on the PC and it's OK, only OK.
I've just ordered CorelDraw for the PC and hope it lives up to it's promise.
So far it seems to me to be a great deal more difficult to use then the
Kaleidagraph software but I'm committed to it (at least short term! ;^) )

Oh yeah, there's always Excel! Almost forgot an honorable mention for
SPSS/windows. It has excellent plotting capabilities including 3-D but
falls short when you want to incorporate the plots into other applications.

hope this helps!



I have two suggestions for your graphics programs:
a) Powerpoint (the best I have ever seen for just graphics)
b) The Graphics that are included within Wordperfect for Windows 6.0a are
also exceptional.
c) Harvard Graphics (I am not quit sure if they came out with the Windows
version yet but the DOS version is also quite good).
I hope I helped you a little bit,
Nick Stergiou
Biomechanics lab
Univ. of Oregon

I have been using SigmaPlot for many years and have used many versions from the
early DOS versions through to the current version (2 for Windows).

I have found it to be very good and use it a lot. The only major
exception was the first version for Windows which had more bugs than
you could count...but they quickly advised that a new version was coming to
fix the bugs and it was provided for free (better than Microsoft!).

It is very easy to use and very intuitive so that you don't need
to read the manuals to begin with; you can just start working
with data and producing graphs.Contact me if you have more specific
questions that I might be able to answer.


Michael Lee
Department of Biomedical Sciences
University of Sydney, Australia
e-mail: m.lee@cchs.su.edu.au
www: http://www.cchs.su.edu.au/Academic/BIO/biomech/lee/michael.html

I have extensive experience with SigmaPlot, having used various versions for
6 years. I appreciate its strengths and acknowledge its weaknesses. At
various times I have researched the other programs with similar capabilities
and have found no reason to change although some of them may offer something
slightly different or better.

Graph wise, you want to do it you can do it
Reading in data, in general, is a snap
Customer service is friendly and helpful even if they say that you can't
do it
Multiple graphs per page, multiple plots per graph, many x and y axes
Multiple graph alignment can be done visually or numerically
Integrates with Word although depending on your computer it can be slow
Does grid lines

The price of power is a very steep learning curve
Spreadsheet capabilities tend to be a number of versions behind what you
expect (Excel)
Cannot automate repetitive tasks (no internal macro language, nor can
Visual Basic be used externally)
When you have many graphs on a sheet the redraw really slows down
Rarely get customer support immediately (have to wait for them to call back)
Can't create headers or footers
Can't create multiple graph pages from a spreadsheet
There's a bug when drawing and saving reference lines that hasn't been
corrected in maintenance updates and can't combine horizontal and vertical
reference lines. (Can draw a line manually)
No spacing tool
As far as I can tell, can't do gray scale fills

If you have specific questions please feel free to contact me.

Barry Munkasy
University of Southern California
Department of Exercise Science
Biomechanics Laboratory
PEB RM 107
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0652
(213) 740-2492 (W)
(213) 740-7909 (Fax)
************************************************** *
Try Harvard Graphics and SYSTAT (DOS) as well. The former is good for
making presentation slides. The latter produces nice plots and is reasonably
diverse in statistical capabilities.
I look forward to the summary of responses!
Brian G. Richmond
Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences
State U. of New York
Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364
************************************************** ********
In graduate school, I used Axum (DOS version) for graphical representation of
data. I highly recommend it. It is completely menu driven and easy to learn.

The main features I liked were:
1) Spreadsheet capabilities (many graphing programs offer limited data
manipulation commands).
2) The ability to save graph setup "templates". If you are making a large
number of graphs of the same type of data, you can save a "template" (complete
with titles and axis labels) so you don't have to repeat the same graph
commands for each new dataset.
3) An interactive graphics mode where you can change titles, labels, etc
while viewing the graph, as opposed to executing a menu command followed by
the "show graph" key.
4) For 3-D graphing, Axum allows you to change the "viewpoint" of the
graph to make the data easier to see. i.e., You can play with the
rotation and azimuth angles until you get the best view of your data.
5) Related to #2, if you have a lot of data files that require the same
manipulation and graphing setup, you can create a type of batch file that
you input from DOS that will automatically execute all of the Axum commands
required and show the graph. It saves a LOT of time.

Hope this is helpful.

Chris Miller
Bone and Mineral Lab
Krug Life Sciences/NASA JSC