Origin Update

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Science  16 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5473, pp. 1982
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5473.1982a

Origin 6.0 is the most recent version of the popular data analysis and graphics software developed by Microcal. The major enhancements to this version of Origin are the Project Explorer, drag-and-drop plotting, data masking, expanded graphics export, and customizable toolbars. The Project Explorer is a Windows Explorer-like interface within the program. It allows one to create folders within a project to categorize data, graphs, or results, thus not only reducing project loading time, but also allowing the user to find and open files very quickly. The drag-and-drop plotting feature can quickly plot data identified by highlighting the desired columns and dragging to the plot window. Data masking with the Mask toolbar allows one to temporarily exclude outliers or specified data ranges during data analysis and to color code or hide the masked data.

The versatile import and export formats supported by Origin 6.0 make it compatible with numerous other data acquisition, analysis, and presentation or publication applications. A pClamp module, used to read Axon binary files, is built into Origin 6.0. Additional formats supported by Origin 6.0 include Excel; Lotus; dBase; DIF; WAV; Mathematica vectors and matrices; LabTech; KaleidaGraph; Encapsulated Postscript (EPS); Adobe Illustrator (AI); Enhanced Metafile (EMF); Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM); Bitmap (BMP); Tag Image File (TIF); and Adobe Photoshop (PSD) formats.

Origin 6.0 has numerous built-in graphical plot types. These include simple line and scatter plots, vector plots, polar and ternary plots, three dimensional (3D) color-mapped surface and contour plots, and 3D pie charts. Line thickness, symbols, and other graphical display properties can easily be modified from the new Plot Details dialog box. The ability to layer plots and to link those layers and axes continues to be one of the most useful features of Origin. Multiple layers and graph axes can be linked so that changes in scaling for one layer are automatically applied to the other linked layers. The template functions in Origin enable one to create and save frequently used data analysis and graph formats. This, along with the Origin scripting language, LabTalk, can facilitate analysis of large data sets.

The built-in Origin 6.0 data analysis tools are numerous and include descriptive statistics, t test, analysis of variance (ANOVA), linear regression, baseline and peak analysis, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), smoothing, filtering, and calculus operations. Nearly 200 built-in fitting functions can be executed by the Origin nonlinear least squares fitting algorithm. The graphical interface for nonlinear fitting displays equations and sample curves for selected functions. In addition, user-defined functions can be written for nonlinear least squares fitting within Origin. Unfortunately, in this version, LabTalk scripting can no longer be used for data acquisition.

The product technical support is extensive and includes free telephone support, software manuals, online help, and a discussion forum for posting technical and trouble-shooting issues. In addition, patches that fix program “bugs” are available at the Microcal website, as are program add-ons and LabTalk scripts written by other Origin users. The Origin 6.0 manuals and tutorials that come with the software are very well written and helpful.

Origin 6.0

Microcal Software, Inc. Northhampton, MA Origin 6.0, $595; Origin 6.0 Professional, $895 413-586-2013

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