Great Graphs and Charts

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, send e-mail
Published by: JASCA Corp, go to the web site
Requires: MS Windows
MSRP: US$79.95 (for Graphically Internet Intelligent); US$39.95 (for Graphically Light)

Great Graphs and Charts is a Windows application specifically designed to assist in the creation of charts and graphs from numerical information. The same capability has been available in any of the standard spreadsheet programs such as Lotus 1-2-3, Borland Quattro Pro and MS Excel. The question is whether this new package does a better job than the existing programs. After reviewing it, I can tell you that the answer is a definitive "yes".

Installation of the package is very straightforward. The CD has only two files called setup.exe and worldnet.exe. That's surprising because other professional packages always come with lots of files on the same CD. The file setup.exe is a standard InstallShield program that installs the program files and establish its program manager entries in your Start/Programs hierarchy. It also offers to install AT&T WorldNet program, which is the other file on the CD. I responded with a "NO" because I don't need AT&T Internet service. When I started the program, a Startup window shows various choices available for the program. Since it is not clear what I need to do to use the program, I had to start with the Help option. The help screen starts with a content list. From there, you can select one of the topics. I chose the INTRODUCTION because I knew nothing about the program. A gigantic help screen is displayed with many paragraphs of text. Instead of reading through the text, I decided to play with other options myself. After all, windows applications are supposed to be user-friendly.

One bug in the application kept me from using it initially. When I tried to load certain styles, the application aborted without even a chance to save my data. If I did not have the duty of reviewing this product, I'd have quitted using it. After several attempts to use the program, I found that it has some merits in terms of drawing graphs--especially 3D graphs. It is solely designed to work with graphs, so the interface is deceptively simple. Underneath the interface, however, there is a great power in manipulating the graphs. I am getting more comfortable with the product once I learn to stay away from some styles that do not exist but displayed as options. Simply provides some data on its spreadsheet module, one can create a graph with stunning colors and shape.

Comparing with MS Excel, for example, Great Graphs and Charts make all the options available to users instead of hiding under some obscure menu options. In MS Excel, there is nowhere in the menu says GRAPH. You need to block select data in Excel, then select menu INSERT/CHART. Another difference between Excel and the Great Graphs and Charts is that the interface in Excel looks more professional once you learn how to create a chart whereas the Great Graphs and Charts looks like a toy. Users with different tastes will choose one proudct over the other.

A few questions are obvious: (1) Can we use existing spreadsheet files for creating graphs? The answer is yes, although it supports only earlier versions of Excel (4.0). (2) Can it recognize long file names? The answer is no, although it does create the program directory as a long file name. However, it accepts clipboard data and thus overcomes its limitation in file recognition to some extent.

Great Graphs and Charts is part of the package called "Graphically!" If you have a need to create graphs or charts constantly, you might find the package attractive. Instead of launching a big spreadsheet application, use Great Graphs and Charts to do the job quickly and easily.

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