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RE: st: Making saveold a permanent option
I agree with Richard here. Don't forget that the takeup of a new
version of Stata sometimes isn't even synchronised within a single
institution (say, a network version for students vs. the staff
version vs. the standalone version on a laptop), let alone
synchronised around the world. The incompatibilities of the .dta
formats are a nusiance while coauthors, colleagues and students are
using different versions.
I don't think making it easier for Stata 7 users to read Stata 8 data
is going to provide much of an incentive for them to stay with Stata
7. Roughly speaking, if they have the budget and want the new
features of Stata 8 (including the user community's ados), they'll
upgrade, otherwise they won't.
Subject: RE: st: Making saveold a permanent option
Date sent: Tue, 2 Mar 2004 23:52:38 -0000
From: "Nick Cox" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Send reply to: email@example.com
> We're taking up debating roles here. I naturally agree
> about the attractions of maximum compatibility, and the
> history of StataCorp has been very good in this respect.
> I can't comment on MS Word, which I try very hard not to use.
> However, MS seems to have a problem in that many users cannot even see
> the advantage in upgrading, while it is hard to imagine a Stata user
> who would not want to upgrade if cost were no issue (unless they're
> about to abandon statistical computing for a real life).
> A few extra points:
> 1. The differences between Stata 7 and Stata 8 are more
> than just technicalities that StataCorp knows how to handle.
> It's misleading to downplay this given the differences in
> content between 7 and 8 data files, e.g. in representation
> of missing values, etc.
> 2. The next equally understandable requests are that someone
> wants to be able to read Stata/SE files on their Stata,
> or Stata 8 files in Stata 6, etc., etc. (And I can sympathise
> with those whose domestic budgets don't stretch to getting fresh
> personal licenses for home.) But where is the line drawn? More
> generally, the marketing case seems dubious here. Stata gives freebies
> when it suits -- not least updates between releases -- but we're a
> long way into Stata 8 now. Why should StataCorp divert attention on
> behalf of people who won't upgrade? The cost here is diversion of
> developer resources from worthwhile projects that favour loyal
> customers, and people who won't pay have no leverage on StataCorp --
> especially if the freebie makes it even less likely that they will
> 3. Sharing data files is often best done using some ASCII
> file, as may be essential if the other people are not Stata users.
> That can make the issue of versions irrelevant.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Richard
> > Williams Sent: 02 March 2004 23:16 To:
> > firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
> > Subject: RE: st: Making saveold a permanent option
> > At 10:30 PM 3/2/2004 +0000, Nick Cox wrote:
> > >Essentially, 7.0 is history. The only obligation
> > >it exerts over StataCorp is providing tech-support
> > >to registered users.
> > >
> > >I've no quarrel with felt needs, but I want StataCorp
> > >to look ahead, not backwards.
> > >
> > >Nick
> > >firstname.lastname@example.org
> > From a marketing standpoint though, I think it is a good idea when
> > a
> > company makes it as easy as possible for users of different
> > versions to
> > exchange files. It used to be incredibly annoying when
> > Microsoft would
> > make changes in Word's .doc format to add features that 90% of the
> > population did not want anyway, making it a big hassle to exchange
> > files. It was smart of MS to minimize incompatibilities and to
> > offer freebie routines for conversion. I'm sure Stata would prefer
> > that everybody just immediately upgrade to V. 8, but an alternative
> > possibility is that people will stick with 7 if it is too much
> > hassle to upgrade everyone and if it is a hassle to exchange files
> > between versions.
> > Stata obviously already has the code for switching back and
> > forth between 7
> > and 8, so it presumably wouldn't be too hard to come up with
> > a separate
> > utility for this purpose.
> > In the present case, Karen can admittedly solve her problem
> > just by being a
> > little more careful! But if you are in a situation where you
> > exchange
> > files a lot (with students, colleagues; or perhaps if you
> > place things on
> > the web) it would be nice not to have to worry about
> > compatibility issues
> > or always being sure to use the lowest common denominator when
> > saving things. I occasionally work on a machine that has Stata 7,
> > so it is a nuisance when I can't open a file and have to convert it
> > with Stat/Transfer or switch to a Stata 8 machine.
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Prof. Mark E. Schaffer
Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation
Department of Economics
School of Management & Languages
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS UK
44-131-451-3485 CERT administrator
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