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


From   Lee Sieswerda <Lee.Sieswerda@tbdhu.com>
To   "'statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu'" <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: RE: RE: RE: Referring to a varname, leading to errors
Date   Tue, 11 Feb 2003 13:54:46 -0500

Nick,
I'm not sure how useful such a straw poll is, but since you asked...
I, for one, never use varname abbreviations. Perhaps in some deep recess of
my psyche I believe in Murphy's Law and don't want to run into Glen's
problem inadvertantly. So, I would not be against having some way to toggle
varname abbreviations off. But I wouldn't see it as a high priority. I do,
however, use shortcut syntax for variables (e.g., var*, var1-var15) everyday
and would never want that to be changed. Also, judging by the code snippets
on Statalist, I'd say that the vast majority of users use command name
abbreviations, and would never want that to change either! 

And speaking of abbreviation, many thanks to StataCorp for all of those new
aliases that allow a user to abbreviate calls for help (e.g. whelp reg;
whelp tab; whelp inrange; etc.). That is a very useful time-saving feature.

Lee

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Nick Cox [SMTP:n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk]
> Sent:	Tuesday, February 11, 2003 1:34 PM
> To:	statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> Subject:	st: RE: RE: RE: Referring to a varname, leading to errors
> 
> 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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