I think that the ability to see what's behind the curtains that Stata allows by the "open" ado files that compose Stata and many user-written code is one of the most attractive features of Stata. There are at least two advantages.
First it allows people to do the tailoring of the program to their specific needs, provided that some suitable training in Stata programing has been undertaken. This Stata "feature" encorange in turn people in the scientific community to exchange problems, ideas, and potential solutions via this list and the sharing of their user-written code. I would not be surprised to hear that at least one interesting collaboration project started by a posting to this list or by the exchange of Stata code between two otherwise non-related authors. Hence, the of “openness” of Stata ado files creates a sort of positive spillover that encourages research and facilitates the formation of research networks.
Second, since advanced users are producing tailored code for their specific applications, this implies that Stata is permanently developing beyond the main development efforts and business strategy of StataCorp. This feature is capable of attracting people that otherwise would not consider Stata as their preferred package – so, there are some “network effects here”. It also provides, I believe, a sort of feedback to StataCorp that is valuable to evaluate the needs of its users and plan its future development. So there is here another positive feedback that the “open ado” feature creates.
To finish just let me say that I think that the existence of this “open ado” feature and the existence of this Statalist is one of the major Stata competitive advantages of Stata over other commercial statistics packages. I would be willing to say it is the reason I chose Stata over other potential competitors.
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
>>> M.E.Schaffer@hw.ac.uk 09/06/04 16:03 PM >>>
Quoting Nick Cox <email@example.com>:
> 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.
> 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.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of David
> > Sent: 06 September 2004 14:44
> > To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > 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
> > 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
> > source bandwagon. Why does the Stata Web site not include
> > this phrase,
> > "open source", prominently, or make the comparison with what Stata
> > 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
> > packages, and I barely have enough time for a little more than a
> > superficial grasp of either.
> * For searches and help try:
> * http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html
> * http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq
> * http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/
Prof. Mark Schaffer
Department of Economics
School of Management & Languages
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS
tel +44-131-451-3494 / fax +44-131-451-3008
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