Comparison of graphing and charting software

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
I'm investigating the purchase of a new app for graphing and charting software for OS X. These are my leading contenders so far.
  • Aabel $249 educational / $349 standard

  • Chartsmith $129

  • DeltaGraph $299

  • Mathematica $140 student / $1,800 standard

All of these provide demo versions that allow free use for at least one month.



From the web sites it seems that all but mathematica can produce very polished looking output. Perhaps the samples on the mathematica website were not drawn using Quartz.



I'm not trying to say any one of these is best. We all have different needs. I would very much appreciate hearing feedback from others. I have used DeltaGraph on OS 9 so I am somewhat familiar with that. In my particular case my wife is a student and I can get DeltaGraph at an upgrade price so the prices are roughly similar. Eventually I would pay the full price for whatever app I settle on.



My data consists of either x-ray spectra ( one dimensional arrays with 1024 to 2048 entries) or x-ray maps (sets of two dimensional arrays).



My own charting needs fall into two areas. I sometimes need to explore data grahically for my own benefit. I will require simple curve fitting for the spectra. Principle component analysis or some sort of clustering algorithm would be great for the maps.



My second need is to produce very nice looking results that I can present to customers in my job as an applications engineer.



Before I plunge into downloading all four and trying them out does anyone else have any opinions on these? Thanks in advance.



Here is my first blush impressions:



Aabel - Looks promising. Output looks very nice. Seems to have good computational abilities.



Chartsmith - Very nice looking output. Limited computation abilities.



DeltaGraph - Very nice looking output. Limited computation abilities.



Mathematica - Unclear how nice the output looks. Superb computational abilities.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by neutrino23

    I'm investigating the purchase of a new app for graphing and charting software for OS X. These are my leading contenders so far.

    Aabel $249 educational / $349 standard
    Chartsmith $129
    DeltaGraph $299
    Mathematica $140 student / $1,800 standard


    All of these provide demo versions that allow free use for at least one month.



    From the web sites it seems that all but mathematica can produce very polished looking output. Perhaps the samples on the mathematica website were not drawn using Quartz.



    I'm not trying to say any one of these is best. We all have different needs. I would very much appreciate hearing feedback from others. I have used DeltaGraph on OS 9 so I am somewhat familiar with that. In my particular case my wife is a student and I can get DeltaGraph at an upgrade price so the prices are roughly similar. Eventually I would pay the full price for whatever app I settle on.



    My data consists of either x-ray spectra ( one dimensional arrays with 1024 to 2048 entries) or x-ray maps (sets of two dimensional arrays).



    My own charting needs fall into two areas. I sometimes need to explore data grahically for my own benefit. I will require simple curve fitting for the spectra. Principle component analysis or some sort of clustering algorithm would be great for the maps.



    My second need is to produce very nice looking results that I can present to customers in my job as an applications engineer.



    Before I plunge into downloading all four and trying them out does anyone else have any opinions on these? Thanks in advance.



    Here is my first blush impressions:



    Aabel - Looks promising. Output looks very nice. Seems to have good computational abilities.



    Chartsmith - Very nice looking output. Limited computation abilities.



    DeltaGraph - Very nice looking output. Limited computation abilities.



    Mathematica - Unclear how nice the output looks. Superb computational abilities.




    You should look at these applications:Igor Pro produces textbook quality graphs. It has a comprehensive scripting language that is reminds me of a highly readable version of C. If it can't be done in Igor Pro, it probably can't be done.



    KaleidaGraph does about 95% of what Igor Pro does at a much smaller price. For simple graphs, it is about as easy as can be. Its GUI is familiar to users of the grand daddy of all Mac charting apps, CricketGraph. Its scripting language for math functions is based on Reverse Polish Notation. It is powerful if you know how to use it. However, it is not comprehensive like the scripting language of Igor Pro.



    ProFit is a European entry. At $99, it is also the least expensive. ProFit is distributed like shareware, but is easily as powerful as Igor Pro. However, this application and Igor Pro have slightly different strengths. ProFit's scripting language is an extended version of Pascal. It can do just about any scientific 2-D or 3-D graph.



    I will soon upgrade to the MacOS X version of Igor Pro. I currently have MacOS X versions of the latter two. As for the apps on your list:



    Aabel?I am not familiar with it.



    Chartsmith?This app produces excellent presentation charts.



    DeltaGraph?This used to be the premier presentation charting application. It was considered to be the idea companion for M$ Excel. DeltaGraph has scientific graphing capability. However, I prefer applications such as KaleidaGraph and the defunct CricketGraph and CA-CricketGraph III. YMMV.



    Mathematica?This is a symbolic manipulation/computation app rather than a charting/presentation app. If you buy Mathematica, you will still need one of the other apps listed above.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    You may find that a visit to Macintouch will give you some helpful information about graphing programs in OS X. There's been a month-long discussion about the various choices, complete with links to the websites of the programs.



    http://www.macintouch.com/graphscharts.html#links



    I've used Deltagraph since v 1.0, and Cricket Graph before that. Both of those programs were great advances in their day, but there are thankfully many more choices now. For relatively simple graphing jobs I now use Prism from Graphpad, which also includes more statistical tests that I hope to ever need. However, the UI is not very Mac-like, and the options for exporting graphics are not robust.



    Several of the science journal publishers that I have used in the last couple of years have insisted that Mac users provide their graphs as EPS exports from Kaleidagraph, which has been made to be OS X - savvy in the last year. That works pretty well, but I can't categorically predict that it will fit your needs better than other programs available.



    I agree that Aabel looks pretty interesting, but I have no experience with it.



    Given that one of your uses is inspection of features of your spectra, I recommend that you pay attention to the ability to handle a large array of data on screen. The programs can take bewilderingly different amounts of time to redraw larger data sets on screen, and IGOR Pro makes a point of promoting its ability to quickly redraw such spectra. I recently starting working with mass spec data (50,000 points per spectrum). While the instrument's vendor-supplied Windows program can quickly zoom around the spectra, with automatic re-scaling to boot, the data exported to Excel (either Windows or Mac) is painfully drawn on screen. My data sets are too large for either Deltagraph or Prism, so I am also slowly going through all the programs to see if any can visualize the graphs on screen as well as the program from the instrument's manufacturer.



    Good luck, and please post back with your experiences.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,529member
    Thanks to both of you for taking time to reply. The discussion list at Macintouch was very helpful. Based on all of that and looking at the web sites I've whittled down my options to

    Pro Fit

    Aabel

    DeltaGraph



    In the next couple weeks I'll download the free demos and try them out. I'll post back my findings.



    It does look like there is now a good selection of software for this general area of charting/graphing/ computation and curve fitting. Especially with OS X it seems that many programs can generate publication quality graphics.



    About ten years ago I also used CricketGraph. It produced nice results but it used to crash a lot for me. I think because my data sets were too large.



    I agree with the tip from the Macintouch discussion about Keynote. This is a very handy program for generating charts and tables that then get used in other applications. It is limited though to small data sets. I hadn't thought about using the transparent background. I'll give that a try.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Why isn't matlab on the list. Not the greatest at graphing but I think it may be much better at the DSP.
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