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st: ssc whatsnew


From   baum <baum@bc.edu>
To   StataList <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: ssc whatsnew
Date   Sun, 04 Aug 2002 11:37:40 -0400

I agree with Alan Riley, who responded to Bill Rising's comment, that there is certainly no reason to centralize all user-written Stata code in the SSC archive. There are some features of Stata that make special notice of the SSC archive, such as the ssc command; but other net-aware features, like 'findit', work equally well for all users' sites, as long as they have been placed on the list of user sites at StataCorp.

Authors are welcome to mirror Stata routines that they wish to circulate via the SSC archive. Some authors rely on the archive and eschew setting up their own site. Others use the archive in addition to their own site. Those that do the latter are kindly requested to ensure that updated versions of their materials are sent my eay, so that SSC does not circulate out-of-date materials.

ssc whatsnew depends on one feature of its 'user site': the fact that every module in the SSC archive has a 'Distribution-Date' associated with it in its .pkg file. Good Stata programming habits imply that a program's version number and date of last update would appear on the first line of every ado-file. Not all authors follow those habits. Furthermore, since a package can contain many ado-files, which is the relevant date? (Logically, the last, but...) The currency of Stata packages is ensured by having a separate date (either a creation date or revision date) in standardized form stored in every package file, which is updated when the package is rebuilt (when its contents are altered). If no human errors are made in this process, the Distribution-Date showing on 'ssc describe foo' should tell you when the foo package was last revised.

The extension of a 'whatsnew' feature to users' sites would necessitate such a mechanism so that the currency of each user package could be ascertained. Users providing materials would have to adhere to this or a similar convention in order for a 'whatsnew' routine to reliably determine the date of last update of a package.

Last, I would note that for the sake of efficiency 'ssc whatsnew' does not query each package file in the archive. It queries a small number of text files from which package files are automatically generated. My end of 'ssc whatsnew' is written in php, version 4.

Thanks
Kit *
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