Superior to DeltaGraph. Though DG boasts more chart types (Many of which the average user would not need.) ChartSmith is so much easier to use and produces nicer looking charts-hands down. CS is less expensive too. (By the way, I hear CS is expanding their chart selection this year-if you really need more.)
My colleague and I took four days to test DeltaGraph and ChartSmith. DG has a 700 page manual. That should tell you something.... DG proved frustrating to use. Menus are very poorly planned. Related items are not together. Final results were passable but took a lot of effort to make the chart look good. Expect a significant learning curve. The overall experience using DeltaGraph was no fun at all.
CS had a few disappointments (no leader lines on pie graphs, the Open chart from Template command did not seem to work in the demo, and you cannot apply drop shadows to 3D bars though you may create drop shadows for 3D pies...maybe I just missed a cue on that one...)
ChartSmith pallets are well organized. Features can be clicked on and off with ease in the Inspector Pallet which displays the options available as you click on various areas of your chart.
The color pallet includes RGB, CNYK, HSV, Greyscale, the color wheel with transparency option, the crayon box, developer colors, and a custom swatch feature-very nice. You can name, rename, or delete pallets or individual colors. Two problems here are that you must make your custom colors in the order you want them to appear in your pallet because it seems that you can't move them once you have created them. Also, there are no Pantone color pallets.
To apply color, click on the chart element you want to modify, move your mouse over the colorwheel until you get the tone you want, and release or simply drop a color swatch onto the area. If you hold the option key down you can preview your choice before applying it.
File Export/ Formats:
For low res .tif or .pdf files simply drag the chart image to your desktop holding down either the option or command keys.
The save or save/as command will only give you a ChartSmith or Keynote file. You must export the file for other formats. The export option allows you to specify any resolution you choose. Create .tif, .psd, .jpeg, .eps and other formats.
To create a Photoshop file with a transparent layer delete the default background fill before exporting from ChartSmith. Use Photoshop to apply layer drop shadows, beveling, etc.
While my colleague was reading through reams and doing tedious step-by-step tutorials in DeltaGraph I simply opened ChartSmith and started using it. I did also test DeltaGraph. I am sure I would not want use it as my charting program. I would not recommend DG to anyone except perhaps a programmer...and then only one who didn't really care what his charts looked like.
I keep all my charts for a single project in one Excel workbook. One chart per titled worksheet. (I keep the sheet clear of other data but if you have to have backup data on the same sheet you will be able to highlight the portion you want to draw from) After you launch CS go to Data View>Excel Import. The prompts are easy to follow and work very well. No problems here though I did not try bringing across data with custom formulas in it. I typically use "values only" data.
Making data changes:
Nothing could be easier. The chart redraws accordingly. You can eliminate rows or columns and easily add them in.
Other details I appreciate are the ability to manually adjust the scale and move data labels. You can easily apply shading to the sides and/or top of 3D bars, and spread bars apart or together using a slider.
CS comes with preset templates which you can modify or you can design your own. Import images for use as backgrounds or chart element fills, screen back these fills with the transparency option.
(In order to keep transparency in PDFs you must export the file to psd, save it, and then use Distiller to properly render it. The auto PDF of CS will not preserve transparency.)
Incorporating previous CS charts:
If you have several charts to make for one report or project you can create all of them in the one file. Access a particular chart within your file by clicking on the corresponding icon in the navigation bar. If you want to use the style or chart from a different CS file just open it, copy the icon, paste it into the current project and-voila it has become part of your new project.
Probably the thing I miss most in ChartSmith is the truly unique feature set once available in Adrenaline ChartsPro, produced by a Canadian company I believe. ChartsPro had auto leader lines on pies if you wanted them and movable lights, up to as many as four. These lights, placed around your chart, would create they most pleasing appearance.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use, reasonably priced charting program that generates a chart you can be proud of-go with ChartSmith.