Ever since I have been a Mac user, I have been a fan of the Omni Group. The Omni Group has made some great software over the years including one of my favorite web browsers OmniWeb and a great presentation tool, OmniDazzle. One of the great things about the Mac platform is the quality of the programs available. The Omni Group have never disappointed in this regard and I am always happy when they release a new product because I know it will be high quality, easy to use, and affordable. Such is the case with one of their newer pieces of software, OmniGraphSketcher.
OmniGraphSketcher is a one trick pony. However, it performs that trick remarkably well. OmniGraphSketcher is, from The Omni Group’s website a, “Fast, simple graph drawing and data plotting,” program. It is about time that someone made an easy to use graphing solution that wasn’t tied to a spreadsheet. Yes Excel and Numbers can make graphs, but sometimes I want something super quick and easy to edit and adjust without entering in a ton of numbers. OmniGraphSketcher is amazing in this regard.
The first thing I noticed when I started up the program was a total lack of rows, columns, and cells. Yes, I can get to them if I need to, but they are not there staring me in the face waiting for me to input my data. When you open the program you are immediately presented with an empty graph, ready to be drawn on. That’s right. I said drawn on. The beauty of OmniGraphSketcher is that you draw your graph, not just input data into a grid.
Now, let’s say I want to graph the average temperature of Houston, Texas. I would like my X-axis to be the month. To change the label, I just double click on the words “X Axis” and change them to “Month.” I can then change the corresponding hash marks from their default numbers to the months by double clicking on them as well. By default, each axis has ten values. To change this, I just have to go into the inspector and adjust the axis ranges. I will do the same for the Y Axis to get my data set up. Now that I have each axis set, I can begin charting my data. I am using the data from http://www.idcide.com/weather/tx/houston.htm to make my graph. To make my points I hold down the D key on the keyboard and just click where I want to place them. At the bottom of the screen there is a handy coordinates display so I can get the correct values plotted. Once I place my points, OmniGraphSketcher will fill in the line for me. If I want to change the type of line, I can just go into the inspector and change it from straight segments to curved segments, best fit, or even no line at all. This is very quick and efficient. I can also change the stroke if I would like.
I will be doing three graphs for my temperature, High, Average, and Low. I would like for my high temperature graph to be red instead of black. Once again, I can find that setting in the inspector. I change the color to red and also adjust the thickness. I can elect to show my points or just have a line. Everything is really flexible. Now I can add in my graphs for the average temperature and the low temperature in the same manner. This takes all of about 30 seconds for each graph. Now that I have my graphs, I can go in and add a label. To add a label, I just double click. I can then position my labels wherever I want them. Now that I have my graphs drawn, I can go into the inspector, and look at my raw data. I can make any adjustments to the data, or I can continue refining my graph. I can add grid lines, arrow, or adjust the canvas size.
One of the coolest features to me is the ability to fill the graph with color to specify a range. Like everything else in OmniGraphSketcher, this is also extremely easy to do. To fill an area, all I have to do is hold down the F key and drag over the points I want to fill. Once again, I have access to all the normal properties in the inspector to modify my graph. This is really an easy and quick way to create graphs.
Now that I have completed my graph I need to export. OmniGraphSketcher makes this extremely easy as well. If I need to do a quick export, I can click on the ‘Copy as Image’ button and then paste my graph into another program such as Pages or Keynote. I can also export as a PDF file, a PNG file, or a standard JPG. These options cover most options I would ever need.
I have mainly discussed drawing graphs, as I feel this is the main advantage of OmniGraphSketcher. However, you can import data from programs such as Numbers or Excel. This makes OmniGraphSketcher and ideal helper program for these two popular spreadsheet applications.
I really do like OmniGraphSketcher and think it will be useful for a lot of people. I do think it is lacking a few features. I would like to see an option to create pie charts. Right now, this program creates bar graphs and line graphs. I think the addition of pie charts would really add to OmniGraphSketcher. I would also like to see an option to create three dimensional graphs. While I really like the look of the graphs produced, I think three dimensional graphs would really add a lot. Finally, I think that the $29.95 price is a little too high for the program. I think The Omni Group would really sell a lot of these if it was priced at $19.95. I think the program is a little too limited to warrant the current asking price, but if you make a lot of graphs, then it might be worth the price for you. I do not create graphs a lot so I would not purchase it at the current price point. However, if I had the need for creating graphs, I find this to be a lot faster and easier than creating them in Numbers or Excel.
All in all, I think OmniGraphSketcher is an excellent program and does what it does extremely well. The Omni Group has a history of making excellent programs, especially ones that fill a niche. OmniGraphSketcher continues this tradition by offering a powerful, easy to use program that will appeal to a wide variety of users. I will keep my eye on this one because as it matures, I think it will change the way most people think of creating charts and graphs. The Omni Group has a hit on its hands and should be commended on taking a different approach to creating charts and graphs. If you need more information or would like to see some demonstration videos, visit http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraphsketcher/. If you would like more information on The Omni Group and their amazing software go to http://www.omnigroup.com.
As per the new blogging rules, I must disclose that I was given a free copy of OmniGraphSketcher to review. However, that did not influence my review in the slightest.