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How do you examine your measurements?

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Hey All,


I was wondering what tool you use to create graphs from your measurements. My advisor recommended me R (which we also learned in our Statistics lecture), but I was wondering if there are any other good tools/languages to use?


Is anybody using Excel for such a purposes?

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I wouldn't use spreadsheet software to make graphs, unless it's a weird case where I have a whole bunch of data already nicely formatted in Excel and I just want to quickly look at a histogram or a trend or something. Otherwise, I find that spreadsheet graphs are slow, clunky, and not very portable!


My old plotting software of choice used to be gnuplot, which can plot from ASCII formatted text files. But, the syntax is a bit strange and there are some weird limitations (or require weird workarounds). Now that my school has a MATLAB license, it is currently my favourite! I used it all of last year for almost every problem set in my courses.


However, this summer, I am trying to learn Python and I think I will like matplotlib a lot. It will be very similar to MATLAB, but free! I think the example plots even look nicer than MATLAB. 


Personally, I would like to make plots in a language/software that I can script and run in batch-mode (to make tons of plots), and allow me to make them in PNG format (for presentations), JPG format (for sharing via email for example) and EPS/PS format (for including in papers) easily. I would also like intuitive and easy ways to make the text large/pretty, have nice colours and do multiple axes on the same page. MATLAB does all of this and so would matplotlib on Python. Gnuplot also does all of this but it requires a lot of trial and error and playing with parameters to get right. I think this is probably possible in something like Excel too, but I'm not sure if I can easily script it to e.g. make the same plot for 1000s of datasets and I really do not want to be manually clicking to change titles, colours etc.

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