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st: RE: Re: RE: Problem areas

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   st: RE: Re: RE: Problem areas
Date   Fri, 26 Aug 2005 20:46:37 +0100

Without wanting to be insensitive to those 
with incomes that mean Stata is too expensive 
-- which include many people in _all_ countries 
-- this is just not going to happen. Or so 
I surmise. 

If you want open source Stata, you will have to 
recapitulate the development of Stata from scratch, 
which means getting a team up to speed on C programming, 
operating systems, low-level stuff, numerical
analysis, etc., etc. And then you have to watch 
copyright issues. 

This is because StataCorp is a company based almost
totally on Stata, and they are just not going to 
throw their intellectual capital out into the world. 

In principle, what you want 
could be done, as shown by the history of S-Plus and R. 
But that history has certain unique features, 
unlikely to be matched in the case of Stata. 

And it would be interesting and indeed 
exciting if someone did it, but I doubt it. 

Turn and turn about, why is not the whole 
statistical world not using R if it is free? 

I guess there are several main reasons. Here
are a few: 

1. The way R is set up is congenial to 
its developers but not to all possible users. 
This creates a feedback loop, as new code
has to fit in with existing code. R still
shows its origin in S, which is a programming
language first and foremost. 

2. Many users want GUIs as well. The GUI 
of R, as I understand it, is minor. 

3. Many users want and indeed need technical 
support. Somewhere I saw a comment from 
an R developer "Our idea of technical support
is that you support us", and that's fair enough. 
Naturally there are email lists etc. for R 
and people do help each other. But no one 
has the _duty_ to help you. For many users, 
that's crucial. 

4. The inertia that comes from pre-existing
investment in people, locally-written programs, 
documentation etc. to do with a particular
program that is already in use in a particular


Manuel Chávez
> I agree that STATA is the leader on statistical packages. 
> Also I understand
> that it has to find a way to support itself. Nevertheless, 
> for some of us in
> developing countries often is a burden not to be able to get 
> the upgrades
> and last versions. The truth is, I believe, that STATA will make much
> greater benefit that what it does if it were open source. I'm 
> sure that some
> financial mechanism could be found to support the 
> infraestructure and I
> almost sure that it's development is not due to copy rights, 
> and maybe a
> faster and broader development could be reach in an open 
> source format. Just
> think on STATA as a vaccine, it is in some way a need.

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