July 15, 2009 § Leave a comment
This is a pretty arcane topic, but I’ve chewed this over enough with colleagues (nobody agrees) that I sense it might interest at least a few visual journalists.
I prefer the Illustrator charting tool for bars, pies, sized circles and simple lines. I prefer Deltagraph for step charts and complex fever charts.
Illustrator charting tool
Pros: It’s fast and easy to use, you can do the plotting of the chart and the aesthetic details all in one program. The charts are clean without a bunch of compound paths or other junk that needs to be deleted.
Cons: Will not import .xls files, sometimes chokes on big datasets or long numbers, few options for the tick marks and won’t read numbers as the category axis.
Pros: Works with big numbers and datasets, plays well with Excel data, has lots of flexibility on axis labeling and tick marks, makes just about any kind of chart
Cons: You need a separate design program to make the charts publication-ready, exports some cumbersome paths along with the chart that need to be removed, some functions are hard to figure out at first.