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July 18, 2006 4:06 PM   Subscribe

What shareware/web app can I use to make clean, pretty graphs?

I want to make some good-looking, simple charts to post as image files on a website. I haven't been happy with the results from Excel and I downloaded NetCharts on someone's recommendation without realizingly that it is orders of magnitude more complicated than what I wanted. What website or piece of software would you recommend for this that will be quick and easy but still produce visually appealing graphs?
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
check out
posted by crunchyk9 at 4:11 PM on July 18, 2006

If you mean plots, I used to use xmgrace for Linux. I haven't used the windows version (Grace), but here's a link to it.

It's not terribly intuitive, but the results are fantastic.
posted by JMOZ at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2006

On non-preview, I realized I should mention that it's free under a GPL license.
posted by JMOZ at 4:19 PM on July 18, 2006

If you're a Mac type, get a load of the handsome bar graphs in this article.* I'd imagine they were created in Pages (part of iWork '06); Apple's support/tutorials page here.
*My only criticism would be to adjust the drop shadows in graph #2 to avoid the x-axis labels.
posted by rob511 at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2006

Some edgier possibilities:

Plotkit is an excellent way to put graphs on websites, though not necessarily to create image files (though it can create SVG).

gnuplot is the canonical free plotting program. Its command-line driven, so it probably wouldn't meet your definition of easy, but I'd be happy to take a stab at providing a small script if you'd like to describe what you're trying to do.
posted by gsteff at 4:35 PM on July 18, 2006

Gnumeric is a free spreadsheet program that is very similar to Excel, but its graphs seem to look a tad more slick. It also has some basic stats stuff built in that are pretty helpful.
posted by Sloben at 5:32 PM on July 18, 2006

If you have PHP at your disposal you can use the Image_Graph PEAR package (Samples)
posted by purephase at 5:49 PM on July 18, 2006

gnuplot. Yes, it's got a higher learning curve.

For a personal project, I was taking a bunch of measurements (16 datasets of 250 measurements each, on each run, doing multiple runs). Pretty soon, pulling all 4000 lines of each run into Open Office's Excel clone, and then sorting, highlighting, and worst going through and overriding its clueless defaults got to be a real PITA.

(I mean, I ALWAYS wanted the X axis to go from 0 to 64, with tics every 16. And every time, I had to double-click, then left click, then select axes, then x axis, then page through a tab dialog. You'd think it'd have figured out by the 24th time that I always wanted 0-64. Nope.)

With gnuplot, once I'd settled on my standard format, hitting up-arrow redisplayed that line and allowed me to edit it to include/exclude sets, change the axes' min/max values, etc., all very easily. Once I'd seen what I needed interactively, I just saved the settings file, copied and pasted the command I wanted, changing the dataset index, in that saved file, interspersed "set output 'dataset.n.jpeg", preceded the lot a "set terminal jpeg", and re-loaded the saved file. And voila, I had 16 graphs in jpeg format to upload to my web site, one for each data set.

And for every run after, I could just reload the saved file, and it would produce new graphs.

Much faster, cleaner and more convenient than endless pointing and clicking and resizing and right-clicking and changing default colors in Open Office or Excel.
posted by orthogonality at 5:51 PM on July 18, 2006

I'm not sure what kind of charts you mean, but how about Gliffy? Its like a free, web-based version of Visio.
posted by Joh at 9:27 PM on July 18, 2006

Inkscape seems to be the leader in free vector graphics programs right now. It is heavily powerful. I've been using it for the past month to create a detailed SVG map for web use and it is amazing. It can save in many formats but SVG is probably the best for web presentation and is supported by any browser with the popular Adobe SVG viewer plugin.
posted by JJ86 at 7:43 AM on July 19, 2006

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