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st: My Stata wishlist


From   Gawrich Stefan <s.gawrich@hlpug.hessen.de>
To   "'statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu'" <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: My Stata wishlist
Date   Mon, 3 Apr 2006 12:01:04 +0200

Hi Statalisters, 

I'm a Stata user for four years now and I think that Stata has improved a
lot from Version 7 to 9.1. But there are still some things that could be
easier and save time and mouseclicks in daily work. Recently I started to
think it over and wrote my Stata top ten wishlist. I thought I post it to
the list first, because I wouldn't be surprised to learn that one or more of
these points are already solved. 

10)
Partial selection & copy of the review window content. No big hassle but
sometimes I would like to copy some lines from the review window to a
do-file, without having to copy the whole bunch. "#review" is of some help
but the result comes with line numbers.

9)
Different colours for numeric, string and labels vars are really a
improvement of the data edit and browser windows in my opinion. Next step
would be to provide the colours to the variables window also. 

8)
Not necessary, but nice: Improved editor features for the Stata editor
(syntax highlighting, advanced search and replace...). 

7) 
.ex
"no; data in memory would be lost" 
"Stata, please leave that to me, please close whenever I want to."
(It is certainly no big thing to write "ex,clear" or click twice. But I
don't want software to hinder my PC to shut down when I shut it down. This
might be o.k. with office software or a editor as the user must decide to
save or discard changes after each working session. But for me working with
data is different: I don't want to save every change in the dataset I need
for some analysis. So most of the time at the end of a session I have an
altered dataset but I don't care.)

6) 
Nearly same thing as (7)
To my mind all options (like ",force", ",clear", or ",replace") to prevent
data loss are of no real use. Or does anybody use e.g. "save" without
",replace" on a regular basis? When I write a command I want it to be
executed. So options to hinder the execution under certain circumstances
should be options, not standard. An alternative especially for beginners
would be a general "Warn me, if a command does destructive altering of data"
Stata setting, that could be switched on or off. Right now I need a
"security option" to drop duplicates or overwrite data files but I'm able to
"collapse" or even "erase" files without. 

5) 
Column selection (ALT+Mouse) in the results window (and the editor) 

4)  
Improvement of the Stata website search engine. (because of (3) I depend on
it) 
Recently I did a research on "parallel lists" and the Stata main page search
gave me nothing of value. Later I was pointed out to the Stata-FAQ-Article
"How do I process parallel lists?" It seems that each part (website, FAQ,
statalist archiv, bookstore) can be searched, but only one after another. 

3) 
My working place is part of a statewide network with a central firewall,
which does not allow any net install or search (Error R672). 
I don't know how frequent this problem or if and how it can be solved (our
firewall config cannot be altered). 
Ado-updates from Stata come as zip-files, so local installation is no
problem. Perhaps third party ado-provider like the ssc-archive could also
provide a cumulative zip-archive of ado-files at least once a year or so if
they experience a lot of manual downloads.

2) 
Improved partial do-file processing: During data analysis I often run only
parts or single commands of do-files. Especially when macros are involved I
often need more than one part of the do-file (so the locals definitions from
the beginning and some commands from somewhere in the file). So I have to
copy&paste the parts together to get them running. 

I would like to have the opportunity to declare some kind of do-file
modules, which could be referenced from the command line, a second do-file
or even from the top of the same do-file.
Something like this: 
do test.do [, {run|hide}(definitions, regress, outfile)]
where "definitions" is the content between "module definitions start" and
"end module" in test.do

Without the run/hide option everything should be executed. Todays workaround
would be to turn each module into a do-file and reference them from another
do-file but personally I prefer to have it all in one well documented file.



*** And finally: My top 1 wish ***

1) Data editor or browser and do-file running:
I personally like to have a data browser in the background when I work on
do-files. I must close and re-open it for every single command I like to
run. Can't there be a easier switch mode (perhaps as an option to "do" or an
"close browser & run"-icon in the editor window)?


****************************************************************************
*
***********************************************************************
Not to forget my Stata top ten list: 

10)reshape  
9) levelsof
8) egen
7) graphs
6) foreach, forvalues, for
5) _n & _N
4) epitab
3) it's so fast...
2) all the kind people here a Statalist
1) Tmap !!!



Best wishes

Stefan


***********************************
Dr. Stefan Gawrich
Hesse Health State Office
Wolframstrasse 33
35683 Dillenburg
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