So how do people make those nice graphs?
May 11, 2011 5:52 PM   Subscribe

What are some super simple graph making programs?

I am creating a research proposal for one of my grad school classes. The class has a heavy focus on shewart control charts. My paper is due between Saturday and Monday. I understand the math behind the control charts but I have been trying to use the freeware shewhart control chart for excel but sadly it is beyond me. My actual thesis proposal isn't due for many months so I'm confident I can figure this out by then but what can I use in the meantime that is super simple. A bonus for any super easy programs that can do histograms, or other graphs.

Also if you can explain the free shewhart program for excel that would be helpful. n and k values particularly. And what values need to be modified, obviously the original ones but which others are not adjusted automatically? Finally, the original data that comes up with the table confuses me with regard to the range chart, what is with this?

Oh also, yes I'm pretty pissed that my research methods course left me seriously lacking in this area...grrr

Link to the program
posted by boobjob to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
have you tried following this guide?

excel can create decent histograms on its own, for cutting and pasting into a more presentation- or document-oriented program.
posted by tehloki at 6:01 PM on May 11, 2011

OSX has a nifty graphing calculator application.

Excel does histograms and pareto charts very well.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:09 PM on May 11, 2011

GNU Plot isn't bad from what I remember. Avoid XPlot from what I've seen. If you want simple then avoid Root like the plauge: I've just started using it at work, and it is downright painful, though it can do pretty much *anything* if you are willing to figure out the macro system and know c or c++.
posted by Canageek at 6:49 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

While they may or may not be a good fit for your specific purposes, gnuplot and graphviz are both excellent for making many kinds of graphs.
posted by silentbicycle at 7:00 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've never heard of shewart control charts, but the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about graphs and charts is R. So I looked at the wikipedia page for shewart control charts to see what they look like and wouldn't you know, the example chart at the top of the wikipedia entry was made in R anyhow.
Clicky clicky!
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:18 PM on May 11, 2011

To clarify: gnuplot's graphs aren't the prettiest (by default), but it's very easy to use to examine arbitrary simply-structured data.. The _Gnuplot in Action_ book is decent.

graphviz is good for making very clean graphs for graph data structures; flowcharts, trees, state machines, etc. Looking at the examples on its website may help explain what I mean, if your background doesn't have a CS background. I don't know of a comparable tool for those, and it works very well.
posted by silentbicycle at 7:46 PM on May 11, 2011

Free, simple and pretty great; meet Google Charts.
posted by axismundi at 8:57 PM on May 11, 2011

MATLAB and its open source implementations via Octave and matplotlib (python) are excellent at doing this kind of work.
posted by sophist at 10:07 PM on May 11, 2011

jgraph (no, not the Java jgraph) is a great, simple tool, once you've installed it. It's a little unix-centric, with support for executing shell-scripts and the like. Installing it is the hard part: i've unsuccessfully tried to compile it from source, and my only success came from the debian binary package. It's pretty much along the same lines as gnuplot, only simpler.
posted by nml at 10:40 PM on May 11, 2011

n and k values particularly

You have no idea about the maths behind your data nor how to optimally present your data, do you?

If helps us to help you if you can tell us what kind of data you have and what you want to do with it.

You're asking the wrong question. And you're likely way out of your league.

You want to talk to your supervisor about expectations and what they expect from you and how they can help you achieve those.
posted by porpoise at 11:09 PM on May 11, 2011

Response by poster: Hmm porpoise, not really necessary as I have already expressed my confusion.

I am tracking public school student enrollment data for co-curricular programs and budgets for those programs to assess the impact of AB 165 (California). This is something of a practice proposal (with fabricated data) so no I don't need to fully understand the math behind it.

Thanks for the other answers though, I can definitely use them.
posted by boobjob at 2:22 PM on May 12, 2011

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