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8/96 Reviews SW: Axum 4.1

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

A Crafty Grapher to Grapple With

By Joel T. Patz

Axum 4.1 is a powerful data analysis package that goes well beyond simple statistics and graphics. Although it adds considerable control to your charting capabilities, it can be a nightmare to use.

The program includes all the standard charting functions, has plenty of 2-D and 3-D chart types, and offers better control than most packages when it comes to manipulating chart elements. A Project Outline window shows your project (multiple data sheets and graphs) in a hierarchical view so you can select individual objects that may not be immediately visible. Axum offers graph templates, which let you set up a graph once and then reuse it as often as necessary.

Axum includes many statistical functions, including Anova, correlations and goodness-of-fit. But once generated, statistics columns are almost impossible to remove from a table. And the user guide offers few statistical explanations, so come prepared with a statistics background.

Unfortunately, Axum does not support dates well. When it imports date fields, it converts them to three columns. I had trouble making Axum work with business data grouped by months or quarters.

It's a pleasure to use many of Axum's unique features. You can name any data column and refer to it by name when setting properties, and switch values between columns or rows. Calculation speeds are exceptional.

You can use Axum's history log to build macro-like scripts to perform frequently needed tasks, and a C-like programming language can handle very complex customizations.

But Axum's user interface, alas, is not as intuitive as those of other graphics packages. The program also crashed several times during my tests. It has a spreadsheet-like table for entering values and a separate graphing window that shows the result of the chart type you've selected. Unlike most tables, however, it is column-based,not cell-based, so you can't easily copy values from one cell to another. Also, the program can't use formulas unless you create a transformation formula and then use the Transform command.

This package's impressive power makes me hope MathSoft can clear up Axum's frustrating interface soon.

Info File --
Axum 4.1
Pros: Statistical/charting features
Cons: Not intuitive
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT
Disk Space: 14MB (full installation, 20MB)
RAM: 8MB (16MB recommended)
800-628-4223, 617-577-1017
WinMag Box Score 2.5
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