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Re: st: Invalid file specification

From   Michael Hanson <>
Subject   Re: st: Invalid file specification
Date   Sun, 8 Jul 2007 10:37:00 -0400

On Jul 7, 2007, at 5:09 AM, Hendri Adriaens wrote:

I'm trying to do something for several files, using a loop. But somehow, it
doesn't work and the error message "invalid file specification" doesn't
really help.

forvalues x=1/4 {;
if `x'==1 {local bestand="parsed_cfd.txt"; local zk="cfd";};
if `x'==2 {local bestand="parsed_qds.txt"; local zk="qds";};
if `x'==3 {local bestand="parsed_vfd.txt"; local zk="vfd";};
if `x'==4 {local bestand="parsed_tsa.txt"; local zk="tsa";};

/* Inlezen */
insheet a b c d e using "`bestand'", tab;

[some more commands]

I find that most Stata expressions that appear to require an -if- statement (as opposed to the -if- qualifier) can be transformed into something that does not, and it usually works better as well. In your case, one possibility would be something like (note: untested!):

local zklist "cfd qds vfd tsa"
foreach zk of local zklist {
insheet a b c d e using "parsed_`zk'.txt", tab // Inlezen

[some more commands]


1. My personal preference is to use the perfectly fine carriage return delimiter, rather than littering one's code with semicolons; arguably in your case the use of -#delimit;- made it more difficult to find your error.

2. You don't say what "[some more commands]" constitutes, but if you don't need "x" later (which the above code presumes), then it's just more overhead that (empirically) can lead to potential errors.

3. If you do not need the "bestand" local macro later, then you can follow the suggested code above. Otherwise, within the loop you can create a local macro as

local bestand = "parsed_`zk'.txt"

4. It isn't clear to me that your -if- statements are literally invalid Stata code: they merely did not return the values you intended ("bestand" appears to have not been defined), which then led to problems down-stream. But I doubt any error reporting convention would have been able to identify your specific problem -- and the suggestions of Austin & Kit on debugging are worth following.

Hope this helps.

-- Mike

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