Reviewed by Les Ellingham


Issue 24

Nov/Dec 86

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K-Graph is the latest addition to the K series of business applications for the ST and can be used on its own or in conjunction with K-Spread to produce graphs of many different sorts and styles. Whilst K-Spread itself does not match the power of VIP, K-Graph stands comparison much better. Indeed, in its range and ease of use it surpasses the graphing capabilities of that package.

As a stand alone package, data is entered and saved as a series of data sets using GEM to add or edit various items of data. Each set can be named and saved to disk for future use. Really that is all there is to creating the data for your graphs, it couldn't be simpler.

Displaying a graph involves load the appropriate data set or sets into memory for use as required later. Up to 32 data sets can reside in memory at any one time and up to 20 sets can be displayed on one graph. There is a wide range of graph types - Line, Vertical Bar, Horizontal Bar, Stacked Bar, 3D Bar, Pie and Overlaid Bar. The manual also mentions Scatter Graphs but this does not appear on the drop down menu. To display a graph you simply choose the type and then click on a Menu option called Display Set. This allows you to choose which set will be shown on the graph. A further option is then displayed giving you the choice of shading or colour used for that data. The graph itself is then instantly shown. Further data sets can be added to a graph at any time by selecting Display Set again and choosing the appropriate data set. Changing the style of graph is easy, simply click on change and choose the appropriate type. It is drawn instantly. One disadvantage of changing graph types is that you are not given the opportunity to select the shading or colour which is used for display. To do this you must recreate the graph anew which, admittedly, takes only a few seconds for a single set of data but could prove cumbersome for more complex graphs. Another nuisance on changing is that you cannot return to a pie graph when you have selected another, you have to recreate. This seems to be a bug associated with the restriction that you cannot use multiple data sets on a pie graph.

Titles can be added to any graph as can a line of text, these appear in 3-D style 'stand out' boxes and can be positioned anywhere on the graph simply by moving them with the mouse. Indeed the whole graph can be moved in this way to give you more creative freedom. The text can be 'arrowed' to point at any particular part of a graph. X and Y axes can of course be labelled as you wish. These labels can be created at will bur must be saved separately from the data sets which is a nuisance. The manual says that Data and Labels can be saved together but does not tell you how, at least I couldn't figure it out.

The patterns used for lines and fills can be edited and saved to disk giving a wide choice of presentation style. In addition the whole of a created graph can be saved to disk in DEGAS format for later enhancement with that or other packages. The Print option is excellent allowing a wide choice of paper size and giving the user the opportunity to select exactly the position that the graph appears on the paper. Certain control is possible over the size of the image. One drawback is that printing is only possible on an Epson compatible printer, a strange restriction since Kuma were the first to provide printer alternatives on a spreadsheet.

There are several other options and refinements possible which can add to the finished style of graph you produce. Additionally data can be transferred from K-Spread but I was unable to test this as it only works with version 1.24 or higher of K-Spread.

Overall the program is excellent but does have some drawbacks. One is that, apart from dumping the screen in DEGAS format, you do not appear to be able to save a graph complete with labels, titles and text. A real nuisance if you have spent some time in getting things just right. The criticisms are really minor though and the program is a joy to use. It will add punch to any presentation you may require for your statistics and the ability to save in DEGAS format means that you will be able to use animation packages like Make It Move to produce the most stunning business presentations that your colleagues or friends have seen!