Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 10, NO. 7 / JULY 1984 / PAGE 63

B-Graph. (evaluation) Arthur Leyenberger.

Apple and IBM owners are not the only ones who can create sophisticated business graphics with their computers. With the introduction of B/Graph, Atari and Commodore users (as well as Apple users) can easily produce bar, scatter, and pie charts. In addition to creating numerous types of graphs and charts, you can also use the analytical tools in the package for the statistical evaluation of data. Analyses such as regression, T-Test, F-Test, Chi-Square Test, and a variety of distribution functions can be performed.

If statistical functions and graphics charting were all that B/Graph offered, it would be a tremendous value. But there is more. Included in the excellent manual is one of the best plain-language brief tutorials on statistics I have ever seen. The information presented stresses the practical uses of the various tests and routines, so you do not have to be a statistician to use them. If I had only had access to material like this in my college Stat classes.

Also included are several appendices discussing such topics as artifacting, disk file descriptions, and even a step by step guide to photographing your video screen. All of the information is accurate and much appreciated.

B/Graph is so easy to use, I created a pie chart within 10 minutes of opening the package without referring to the manual. The program uses a combination of menus and single-key commands to create the graphs and manipulate the data. The graphs are displayed in four-color high-resolution mode using artifacting to produce crisp detail and sharp color.

The program walks you through the creation of the graph. First you select the type of graph you want. Then you choose labels and enter the data. The graph is automatically drawn. Data can easily be changed using familiar editing commands, and the graph is instantly redrawn with changes incorporated. If at any time you decide that the type of graph currently displayed is not the most appropriate for your data, you can easily switch to another type without losing your data or having to retype it. B/Graph will even read VisiCalc DIF format files, so you can pull in data from your spreadsheet files for plotting.

You can dump your graph or data to your printer whenever you wish. Printing is as simple as pressing the START key on the Atari. You choose what you want to print (graph or data) by toggling between the two screens with the SELECT key. What you see is what you get. B/Graph supports the following printers: Centronics, Epson with Graftrax, C. Itoh, N.E.C., Okidata 92, Gemini, and Seikosha AT/100.

The scalings for the various grpahs are all performed automatically by the program but can be overridden at any time. You can enhance the look of your graphs by filling in under or between lines on a line graph; adding or removing grids, borders, and labels; and changing the intensity or hue. You can even overlay one graph onto another.

B/Graph can either save your data as data files or save the graphs themselves as binary picture files. These picture files may be used with the Imaging function of the program which allows you to set up a slide show and present your graphs in sequence.

During your graphing session with B/Graph, the most commonly used DOS functions are readily available. You can get directory listings, lock and unlock files, rename and delete files, and even format a disk. Having these DOS functions right at hand is a convenient and thoughtful addition to the product.

On the right side of the B/Graph balance sheet are ease of use, comprehensive set of features, and thorough documentation. On the left side are a few minor annoyances. Printer codes cannot be passed to your printer for such things as enhanced or double-strike printing. When printing pie charts on my Epson FX-80 printer, I get footballs instead of pies. The horizontal axis is longer than the vertical axis due to the better horizontal resolution of the printer. Other printers supported by the package, however, do not exhibit this anomaly.

There are two aspects of the documentation that initially got my dander up. One is the page numbering. It is not sequential from the beginning of the book but, rather, is sequential within each chapter. It is confusing to flip back and forth between sections. The other severe deficit in the manual is the lack of an index. Fortunately, B/Graph is so easy to use, I rarely needed to look anything up. I also understand that both of these problems have been remedied in a new manual.

Since January 1984, B/Graph is no longer sold by In-Home Software. Commodore has purchased the rights to distribute and market the product for the Commodore 64, Apple, and Atari computers. Commodore will sell an entirely new version of the program with new documentation.

By the time you read this, an enhancement disk should be available to all registered owners of B/Graph. This will provide plotter support to the program. Inexpensive plotters such as the Mannesman Tally Pixie, the Sweet Pea, and the Atari 1020 color printer will all work.

Additional plotting functions will also be supplied. Horizontal bar charts, opposed bar charts, bubble charts, and full x-y plotting will be available. Two new statistical functions--analysis of variance and full multiple regression with six independent levels--round out the enhancement disk.

B/Graph is a powerful graphics charting program that allows you to enter data, perform an assortment of statistical manipulations, and make several types of useful and informative charts and graphs. One of the best features of the package is its interactive nature. Being able to perform a statistical test and then immediately display the results graphically really aids comprehension.

B/Graph is extremely easy to use, has an excellent reference manual, and represents an outstanding value. Michael Reichmann, Robert Wilson, and Ian Chadwick deserve a round of applause.

Products: B-Graph (computer program)