- SigmaPlot lacks immediate feedback.
- When you change an attribute in SigmaPlot, you then have to press "Apply"
to see the effect of the change. Yes, this is a common way for a program to
work, but it is really cumbersome compared to CoPlot.
In CoPlot, when you change an attribute, you will see the change
immediately. For example, as soon as you select a different line type from the
drop-down list of line types, CoPlot applies the change to the drawing. This
lets you try different settings very quickly.
We know this won't ever appear on a list of features in a journal article
comparing different graphing programs. But it was the most striking difference
- Editing text in SigmaPlot is even worse.
- In SigmaPlot, you enter text in a special dialog box which has no "Apply"
button. To apply the changes to the text, you press "OK" and the dialog box
goes away! To make another change to the text you have to repick the object,
choose to change the text again, change the text, and press "OK" again. So the
process of evaluating the appearance of, for example, several different font
sizes takes a long time.
In CoPlot, most text is entered in a one line textfield. Whenever you press
"Enter", the changes are applied to the drawing. Some text is entered in a
little text editor. Whenever you press a "Save" button, the changes are
applied to the drawing. (The text editor window doesn't close until you close
it.) Pressing "Enter" or "Save" is needed because, unlike drop-down lists,
buttons, and checkboxes, CoPlot doesn't know when you are finished editing the
text. But the important point is, you can make a change, see the effect
immediatly, and then make other changes right away.
- SigmaPlot can't make maps.
- Sorry, SigmaPlot doesn't come with map data. Nor is it an optional add on.
And none of its graph types are map projections (like Orthographic, Alber's
Conic, or Mercator).
CoPlot can make custom maps of any part of the world, including very
detailed maps of parts of the United States. You can control which map
features are visible, the level of detail, and the colors. CoPlot includes
three map projections (Orthographic, Alber's Conic, and Mercator). And maps
are just different types of graphs, so you can plot your latitude longitude
data on the maps, customize the maps, etc., just as you would on any other
- SigmaPlot has only a few statistics procedures.
- SigmaPlot has "histogram" (tabulating), regression, and descriptive
statistics. If you want to do more statistics, they would like to interest you
in SigmaStat (only $499 more), SPSS (only $999 more), or Systat (only $1299
more). SPSS and Systat are not perfectly integrated with SigmaPlot (for
example, you can't open a data file in SPSS and then immediately plot the data
CoPlot comes with CoStat, our statistics program, at no extra charge.
CoStat and CoPlot are perfectly integrated: CoStat is CoPlot's
spreadsheet/data editor. CoStat has a wide range of statistical procedures.
You don't need to buy anything else to do ANOVA's, correlations, descriptive
statistics, Chi-Square and other goodness-of-fit tests, non-parametric tests,
- SigmaPlot has few "File : Export" options.
- Okay, SigmaPlot supports JPEG (a standard for publishing images on the
internet). But JPEG files are "lossy" (meaning some pixel's colors are changed
and the JPEG version therefore isn't a perfect reproduction of the original).
SigmaPlot doesn't support GIF or PNG (the two non-lossy web image standards).
SigmaPlot supports Windows MetaFiles (a vector format). But it doesn't
support PDF (a great file type that looks good on the screen and when printed)
or SVG (the new web standard for vector graphics).
CoPlot can create JPEG, GIF, PNG, Windows MetaFiles, PDF, SVG, and several
other file types.
- Hey, the Windows MetaFile that I created with SigmaPlot isn't printing
- Sorry, sometimes the font you used in SigmaPlot looks good on the screen,
but doesn't work right when printed. If the font was a bit-mapped font, it may
appear blocky and crude when printed. And some fonts can be correctly drawn at
an angle on the screen (for example, a text comment printed at 35°), but are
printed at 0° on the screen. SigmaPlot doesn't warn you. The problems just
It is true that CoPlot supports fewer fonts. But for the fonts it does
support, there won't be any surprises when you print the drawing or when you
save it as a Windows MetaFile or some other type of graphics file. The drawing
will appear just as you created it (except higher quality, since printers have
a higher resolution than screens).
- SigmaPlot only supports simple, standard text formatting (bold,
underline, italics, superscripts, colors, sizes, and fonts) but nothing more,
just like all the programs for business people.
- Hey, I thought SigmaPlot said it was for scientists. So how come there is
no support for mathematical formatting like fractions, integrals, or square
roots? Or support for other kinds of text formatting, like lists (bulleted or
numbered)? Or support for special tags that automatically print the current
date, time, or file name?
CoPlot has all of these features.
- How do I get a degrees sign (or other non-ASCII characters) in
- In SigmaPlot:
Eeek. That is a
lot of work for a degrees sign. Do you have that memorized or do you have to
hunt for it each time you need it?
- Choose "Start".
- Choose "Programs".
- Choose "Accessories".
- Choose "System Tools".
- Choose "Character Map".
- Choose the desired font.
- Choose the degrees sign.
- Press "Select".
- Press "Close".
- Position the insertion bar in the right place in your text.
- Press ^V to paste the character into the text.
Like other programs, CoPlot supports the full Greek alphabet. CoPlot
also has a huge selection of accented characters (basically: any accent, any
character). And, CoPlot has a wide range of other special characters which are
not available in other programs: any of the 100 markers that you can use in
your graphs, math symbols, weather symbols, arrows, etc. And these characters
will appear correctly if you export the drawing to a Windows MetaFile or any
other type of graphics file. There won't be any unpleasant surprises.
- Click on the "&" button to the right of the textfield.
- Choose the desired character group.
- Choose the degrees sign. (It is immediately inserted into your text.)
- SigmaPlot's drawing tools are pretty simplistic.
- For example, in SigmaPlot an arrow is always a straight line between two
points. Curved lines are not supported. Three points? Not supported. (To see
an interesting bug, change the arrow's line type to be a dashed line -- the
line type is applied to the arrow head, too, which looks really goofy.)
SigmaPlot's other drawing tools (line, rectangle, ellipse, text) are pretty
CoPlot has much more extensive drawing capabilities: more line types, more
fill patterns, more marker types, more labelling options (like Dimension
objects), more ellipse attributes (so you can make an arc or a pie slice),
etc. And CoPlot lets you precisely move, scale, or rotate drawing objects
(including scaling to a specific size, making mirror images, and rotating to
any angle). You can even insert and delete points from a multi-point Path
object. CoPlot takes drawing objects seriously.
- SigmaPlot has a small color palette.
- In SigmaPlot, there are 16 standard colors. If you want a different color,
you can define a custom color. It's just a little extra work.
CoPlot's palette has 142 standard colors. So if you want a lighter shade of
blue, for example, you can just pick it from the palette. CoPlot supports any
of 16.7 million custom colors, too.
- When a dialog box is visible in SigmaPlot, you can't do anything
- That's right. When a dialog box is visible, SigmaPlot won't let you scroll
the drawing up or down or right or left, zoom in, save the drawing, or do any
other thing that you might reasonably want to do.
When a dialog box is visible in CoPlot, you can scroll the drawing up or
down or right or left, zoom in, save the drawing, and do lots of other things.
- Yeah, but SigmaPlot has 80 graph types and CoPlot only has 7.
- Well, SigmaPlot just names things differently. For example, in CoPlot,
there are about 30 ways to plot data on an XY graph. We call that one graph
type and 30 data representations. SigmaPlot would call that 30 types of
graphs. And CoPlot has many other ways to plot data that are only available on
3D graphs. Don't be fooled; both programs let you make a lot of different
types of graphs. CoPlot's setup is very flexible and easy to work with (it is
very easy to switch to a different data representation).
- SigmaPlot's dialog boxes are a jumble and don't have a consistent
- Some SigmaPlot dialog boxes have 2 columns of options; some have 3.
Sometimes the attribute's name is on the line above the attribute's value;
sometimes it is on the same line, but to the left. Some dialog boxes have tabs
so you have to poke around to find the screen with the attribute that you want
CoPlot dialog boxes are arranged as simple tables with 2 columns: the
attribute names are in the left column and the corresponding attribute values
(which you can change) are in the right column.
| Line Color:
| Line Type:
|| (--- - ) |
| Line Width:
- How about the price?
- Price shouldn't be the deciding factor. You should get a program that is
easy to use and has the features that you need. (Hey! That's CoPlot!) But you
might want to know that SigmaPlot costs $699 (plus an extra $499 if you want
SigmaStat), while CoPlot costs $310 (and it includes CoStat). And technical
support for CoPlot is free, forever.