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Re: st: Stata 8 for Macintosh


From   cnguyen@stata.com
To   "StataList" <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   Re: st: Stata 8 for Macintosh
Date   Sat, 21 Dec 2002 13:53:47 -0600

> It seems that Stata 8 is available for Mac OS X (select platform), but not for
> Mac OS 9.  Is that correct ?

That is correct.  The short answer to why can be found at
http://www.stata.com/info/macintosh.html in the Frequently Asked Questions
section.  The long answer follows.

Although we did not set out to support Mac OS X only for Stata 8 (we had a Mac
OS 9 version in development for quite some time), many limitations of Mac OS 9
forced us to do so.

One of the goals we have with every release is to make Stata faster.  For
Stata 8, one of the ways we made Stata faster is to rewrite how Stata
allocates and manages memory.  However, those changes affected operating
systems that could only allocate a fixed amount of memory such as all versions
of Mac OS prior to Mac OS X (which I'll refer to as Mac OS Classic), all
versions of Windows prior to Windows 95, and of course DOS.  Since we no
longer support Windows 3.1 or DOS, that only left Mac OS 9 affected.

When a problem such as this arises, we must decide whether what we're adding
is of great enough benefit to most of our users even though it means a
higher OS requirement. 

Stata 8's new object-oriented programming system, the class system, requires
the same improvements we made to Stata that made it faster and more efficient.
The new graphics and GUI systems are built on the class system.  Graphics and
the programmable GUI are the two biggest new features of Stata 8.  In
addition, the new graphics system also requires long filename support.

The technical hurdles in porting to Mac OS Classic have become more and more
difficult to overcome over the past couple of releases but we have always
managed to do so.  With Stata 8, we just couldn't overcome them so the
difficult decision was made to suspend further development on Mac OS Classic
and focus on Mac OS X.

Mac OS X is a much more robust and efficient operating system.  Dynamic memory
allocation, protected memory, preemptive multitasking are a few of the many
benefits you'll find in this modern operating system.

The perception by many is that it is slow.  It is, sometimes, but most of the
time, I've found the opposite to be true, especially in an application like
Stata that relies so heavily on fast I/O.  Now that most all of my favorite
applications are available for Mac OS X, I have not gone back to Mac OS 9 in
almost a year and I haven't had to reboot my computer in almost that time,
either!

There are many new features that you will find in the new release that were
only possible because of Mac OS X.

For example, since Mac OS X applications can freely allocate more memory, we
were able to add multiple Do-file editor support...  the Mac version is the
only one that supports this.

The Mac version now has a proper temporary directory to save temporary files
to so no more problems of having spaces in your path with some ado-files.  And
it also supports true POSIX paths, file permissions, and mount points.  And
you can also execute shell commands!

Stata supports live-resizing of windows.  The Mac version takes it a step
further in the Graph window.  Windows and the Unix GUI handle live-resizing by
constantly drawing to the screen as the window is resized.  This can be really
slow and sometimes almost useless if the graph is really complicated.  The Mac
version handles this intelligently by scaling the current graph bitmap image
to the window as it is resized and _then_ redraws the window when the mouse is
released.

The Graph window can be dragged-and-dropped to other applications that can
handle the PICT format.

Stata for the Macintosh can now run in batch mode!  Unfortunately, we didn't
implement it in time for the documentation but we will put up something on
our web site to explain how to do this.

Only Stata for the Macintosh can export graphs and SMCL directly to PDF
format.

And one of the things I'm really proud of is increasing Stata's Results window
output speed in both the Mac OS X and Unix GUI versions.  Windows users have
always had fast output due to how Windows handles drawing to the screen.  With
the new buffered output code, one of our certification scripts went from
normally taking over a minute to run to around 3 seconds!

There are many more features too numerous to list (or even remember)!

We started work on this release with every intention of supporting Mac OS
Classic but technical limitations prevented us from doing so.  But I think our
Mac users will be quite happy with the new release and will give many of the
users who haven't upgraded to OS X a reason to do so.

-Chinh Nguyen, Director of Macintosh Development
 cnguyen@stata.com
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