# Recommenations for graphing software for Windows

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Jennifer Murphy, Apr 26, 2020.

1. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
I would like to find a good, reasonably-priced graphing application for Windows. I would appreciate any recommendations from people who are actually using the software.

This is for personal use, but I want as close to a full-function program as I can afford. My immediate need is to plot blood glucose readings for a diabetic friend and generate trendlines showing how different treatments are working. That data is in a .csv file. For this project, the trendlines are probably exponential or logarhythmic.

I need to be able to plot multiple lines on the same axes and I'd like to be able to shade areas of the map to indicate where the readings are too high or too low.

I looked at MatLab. It can certainly do the job, but the learning curve look fairly steep just to get some plots. And it does so much more than just plot.

I also looked at Origin (Pro). This looks very good, but the price ($400/year) is a little steep. There are a lot of free applications. Many of them look flaky, but a few look pretty good, like Graph. But before I spend a lot of time installing and testing them, I'd to get recommendations from people who are actually using them. I am happy to pay$100 or so, but prefer one-time payment, rather than annual.

A big plus is an active user forum. I find that I get better help from other users than from the company or the developers.

Thanks for any help

3. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

Messages:
16,180
What's wrong with Excel? Or it's open source counterpart OpenOffice Calc?

There is something to be said for using a tool that is:
- very mature
- has a million uses and tie-ins
- naturally compatible with almost any other software you might want to use
- gobs of support
- naturally supports .csv formats
-extremely portable and convertible
- contributable and consumable by virtually anyone else without hassles of conversion or everyone else having to upgrade their s/w suite too
- free

I like graphing stuff too, and wasn't fond of spreadsheets, but I could't see what would be accomplished by over-engineering a solution - and limiting my options down the road at the same time.

There are lots of things you may want to do down the road that will be very easy to do if you stick to well-known software.

Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
Jennifer Murphy likes this.

5. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
I have Office 365 and have used Excel for many years. I find it tedious and error-prone.

I don't know anything about that one, but if I go the spreadsheet route, I'd use Excel.

I had to use Google Sheets for another project. At free, I'd say it's overpriced. Compared to Excel, it's awful -- and buggy. I am inclined to use something that costs something. I'd expect better support. Although a lot of Open Source code has excellent support from the community.

Yes, it's very mature, but another way of saying that is that it's senile. It its defense, it has evolved over many versions and a lot of the quirky syntax is due to early versions.

All good points.
You must be referring to OpenOffice, 'cause my Office 365 account sure as shooting was not free.

I do not agree with this at all. MatLab is at least as well known and supported as Excel and better engineered, in my opinion. Several of the commercial graphing apps are far better at it than Excel, at least from the reports, and, for graphing, far better supported.

And, a dedicated tool is almost always better at a task than a general purpose tool.

So, I'll take another look at Excel and see if Excel 365 has better graphing tools than earlier versions, but I think I'll want a dedicated tool.

7. ### przyksquishyValued Senior Member

Messages:
3,203
Like DaveC426913 pointed out a spreadsheet should be able to do what you want, although you probably already know that.

If for whatever reason you don't want to use a spreadsheet then I'd consider using free science software. The main ones that come to mind for me are:
Both are quite general-purpose science/math software that can do plotting among many other things. Since they're free, it costs nothing to download them and start trying them out. I think it's well worth seeing if one of them will work for you before deciding if you really need to spend money on a commercial program. Personally, I work as a physicist and these and similar free programs work just fine for me. I stopped using Matlab some years ago.

On compatibility, it is worth knowing that Octave uses the same command/scripting language as Matlab, so experience gained with using Octave will quite easily transfer to Matlab if you decide you want to buy a Matlab license later.

Jennifer Murphy likes this.
8. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

Messages:
16,180
Yeah. It's matter of your needs. If I want to share my work with anyone, I hate doing the ol' 'Oh, you don't have that? OK, go here and download this. I'll convert my files to...', etc.

I actually hate Excel too. But I hate negotiating setups more.

9. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
This is very helpful. Thank you. I will take a look at both of these.

I have attached 3 graphs. The first one was generated in an ancient graphing program (Advanced Grapher) that I've had for 20+ years. It is quite limited in what it can do. I then pasted that into a graphics program and added the shading that I want the graphing program to do.

10. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

Messages:
16,180
I graphed my BSLs manually for a while. I use Photoshop, cuz I'm really more about visual design, and I can draw the eye to things I want people to see.

(When I was in ICU a few years ago because my inside liquids wanted to be outside liquids, I brought some fine-lined graph paper and charted my Ferritin levels over 3 weeks to see when I could potentially go home. Still have the original. Never lost THAT is a computer crash.)

Jennifer Murphy likes this.
11. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
The only thing I plan to share is a graphic image (jpg) of the graph, so no problem with that.

Go try to anything non-trivial in Google Sheets. You will come back loving Excel.

12. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
I have a lot of "markup" or "annotations" I want to do, too. For example, I want to shade horizontal areas of the graph in red (for =readings that are too high or too low) and green (for Goldilocks readings that are just right). I'm hoping to be able to do as much of that as possible in the graphing program, but I'll probably end up doing some annotating in a graphics program.

Too many binges, eh?

13. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

Messages:
16,180
Tip:
Only photos should be saved as JPG.
Anything else should PNG. (lossless compression)

Sorry, unrelated to Diabetes. Dieulafoy's Legion. Spontaneous stomach bleed - about a gallon at a time.

Jennifer Murphy likes this.
14. ### Jennifer MurphyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
239
Good tip, thanks.

Oh, sorry to be joking about something that serious.