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st: RE: RE: RE: Referring to a varname, leading to errors


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: RE: RE: Referring to a varname, leading to errors
Date   Tue, 11 Feb 2003 18:34:28 -0000

Glen Waddell

> I suppose the quick reply is, bummer.
>
> There is certainly a place for abbreviated command names.
> My example
> with respect to varnems, however, is intentionally simple.  One must
> recognize that this issue can lead to costly down time when
> mistakes are
> made and must be tracked down.  Abbreviated varnames just
> doesn't seem
> worth it, and clicking on the varname doesn't help when running
> do-files.

This seems to undervalue the benefits of what is generally
considered a feature.

The overall cost-benefit analysis is tricky, in terms of
many, many minute time savings versus some much longer time
working out what went wrong more rarely (not to mention those
analyses which were not what you intended, but you never realised it).

But let's pose a question to Stata Corp and one to users.

1. Stata Corp
=============

Suppose a user like Glen doesn't want to be bitten
ever by this. Imagine that such users can

. set literalvarnames on

meaning

"Listen here, Stata: you are to behave, given my
input, as if you never allowed abbreviated variable names."

How easy would that be? Would there be side-effects?
Well written programs that Glen uses, consciously
or not, should all make use of temporary variables,
but in practice there may be exceptions.

In practice, perhaps, the issue is Command window input PLUS .do
files.

2. Users
========

Do you want what Glen wants? Not disallowing all
variable name abbreviations, which I guess will
never happen, but being able to set this for yourself
to avoid what Glen describes.

Nick
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk

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