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Re: st: RE: open source


From   Mark Schaffer <M.E.Schaffer@hw.ac.uk>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu, Nick Cox <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
Subject   Re: st: RE: open source
Date   Mon, 06 Sep 2004 15:02:16 +0100 (BST)

Nick,

Quoting Nick Cox <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>:

> Well, I doubt that StataCorp would want 
> to make claims that just aren't true, 
> or that could be seen as seriously misleading. 
> 
> The executable, and the underlying 
> C code, of Stata are emphatically not open 
> source, and they are likely to remain 
> proprietary for the foreseeable future, 
> and the unforeseeable future too. 
> 
> It is of course correct that user-written 
> ado files are in a fairly strong sense 
> open source, although fairly useless 
> without the executable. Also, StataCorp-written ado 
> files are in a very weak sense also open source, 
> but only because they are visible. 

I'm not sure this is a "very weak" sense.  Numerous users have, I think, 
taken StataCorp-written ado files and changed them to suit their own 
purposes.  Some of these have become available to other users via ssc, 
etc.  I also recall hearing that StataCorp's preference is for commands to 
be in -ado- form, and perhaps the desire for openness is partly behind 
this.  That said, StataCorp ados are typically rather sparsely commented 
and hence not always easy to make sense of.

I would in any case agree with David that this openness is an attractive 
feature of Stata and one that might deserve more prominence and perhaps 
development (making ados easier to read, for example?).

Just my 0.02.

--Mark

> If someone were to write a new open source 
> executable that ran Stata programs, then there would 
> be an interesting situation! I know this 
> was done once in the case of S-Plus and R, 
> but my own guess is that this is unlikely 
> to be repeated. 
> 
> R is a wonderful thing, no doubt about 
> it, but the differences are every bit as 
> important as the similarities. 
> 
> Nick 
> n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> > [mailto:owner-statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu]On Behalf Of David
> Airey
> > Sent: 06 September 2004 14:44
> > To: statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
> > Subject: st: open source
> > 
> > 
> > I was at a talk given by a Stata user the other week, and he 
> > mentioned 
> > the open source stance of Stata to an audience member, since that
> 
> > audience member is the new chair of biostatistics, and he's an
> ardent 
> > fan of R. I'm not sure the audience member blinked at all.
> > 
> > R gets a lot of attention from potential users by being on the
> open 
> > source bandwagon. Why does the Stata Web site not include 
> > this phrase, 
> > "open source", prominently, or make the comparison with what Stata
> is 
> > and is not in terms of open source more explicit? I did not do an
> 
> > exhaustive search. In many ways, much of Stata is open source, or
> 
> > provides the same utility/flexibility.
> > 
> > For the record, I try to learn both Stata and R. I don't know
> other 
> > packages, and I barely have enough time for a little more than a
> 
> > superficial grasp of either.
>  
> 
> *
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> 



Prof. Mark Schaffer
Director, CERT
Department of Economics
School of Management & Languages
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS
tel +44-131-451-3494 / fax +44-131-451-3008
email: m.e.schaffer@hw.ac.uk
web: http://www.sml.hw.ac.uk/ecomes
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