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st: RE: Do-File editor : a humble plea


From   "Nick Cox" <n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: Do-File editor : a humble plea
Date   Tue, 7 Nov 2006 18:09:27 -0000

StataCorp may or may not wish to reply, but the reply 
I have heard several times at users' meetings is one
you anticipate in your posting. The do file editor 
is a minimal editor and designed as such. Many 
Stata users, like yourself, want something much, much
more in an editor and StataCorp respects that. Indeed
if you visited StataCorp you would find that developers
there spend large fractions of their time inside 
their own favo[u]rite text editor (singular). In short, 
we who use them all love nice text editors. 

But the trade-offs here are not favourable to your request. 

1. Experienced Stata users, including those who work 
intensively with repeatedly re-edited do files and 
programs, already in many cases have long since been
using their own favo[u]rite editors. 

2. Many introductory users don't care much about 
editors. 

3. Bluntly, adding a better do file editor to Stata
won't ship many extra copies of Stata. Adding major new
statistical features to Stata does that. 

4. Syntax highlighting or colouring which you ask
for is a tricky programming problem at the best of times. 
My wild guess, based on comments heard and overheard, 
is that the programming effort required for that exceeds
that already invested in the editor. Also, StataCorp 
would not want to ship anything that did not work 
extremely well almost always. I wonder if that can be 
guaranteed there are many constraints here, 
including the fact that there is no closed vocabulary
for Stata, as users can invent their own program names. 

Having said that, there are specific requests here
for multiple undo and Firefox-like tabs which no 
doubt will go on to a "To think about" list. 

However, your report 

> - The ctrl + S shortcut to save the do-file doesn't seem to work, at
> least with me. It took me a while to realize it, so that I had to
> experience a few disasters in my early days as a Stata-user.

doesn't, I think, supply anything that the developers at StataCorp
can react to. Send them much more detail of what you mean. 

Nick 
n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk 

T.M.Carayol@lse.ac.uk
 
> Everyday since I started using Stata, I can't help but wonder whence
> comes the contrast between the nice, optimized interface of the viewer
> and the output window, and the ugliness and unfriendliness of the
> do-file editor. I suppose I am not the only one to ever have 
> complained,
> either silently or openly, about this issue..
> 
> Below is a list of what I hold to be its most crucial weaknesses ; I
> write this e-mail hoping that someone at StataCorp is going to hear me
> and maybe, some distant day, who knows, take action. Statalisters are
> very much encouraged to add to this list.
> 
> - There is no decent undo command. Currently we can only cancel one
> change.
> - The ctrl + S shortcut to save the do-file doesn't seem to work, at
> least with me. It took me a while to realize it, so that I had to
> experience a few disasters in my early days as a Stata-user.
> - Stata opens one do-file editor window for each do-file I work on..
> Sometimes I have up to 5 do-file editors opened at a time - the pain..
> Firefox-like multiple tabs would be a dream come true.
> - It does not highlight stuff in fancy colours, which I would really
> like it to do - one colour for known commands would be a minimum ;
> different colours for what it thinks should be a varname, an 
> option, an
> expression, etc. would be appreciated too, ideally..
> 
> 
> I understand there exist some alternative text editors which do
> highlight the commands, etc - but it seems to me that a 
> better built-in
> editor would be a great enhancement to Stata.
> Maybe StataCorp considers creating a more friendly interface in the
> future? It would give me the hope and courage to cope with the current
> editor's defects.

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