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st: Dialog Programming


From   Martin Weiss <martin.weiss@uni-tuebingen.de>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   st: Dialog Programming
Date   Tue, 29 Jul 2008 22:32:45 +0200

Dear Statalisters,

an issue that I failed to bring up at the recent "wishes and grumbles" at the SNASUG meeting is the complexity of dialog programming. It seems to me that few authors of user-written software make the effort to write them. Exceptions are, for instance, -ssc d eclplot- and -ssc d psmatch2-. Usage of a command, particularly for new users, is facilitated by dialogs. In fact, Stata is proud of the availability of dialog boxes and a simultaneous command line and programming capability. Now, experienced users can master official Stata, apart from complicated graphs, from the command line. But the user-written software, which often covers functionality that you need only rarely (but then badly), comes largely without the benefit of a dialog box to guide users.

To provide a good example of the issue at hand, -ssc d tabout- is a wonderful command that I tend to use about once a week. This frequency is just about enough to maintain awareness of the command, but not enough to remember all the pitfalls, particularly the incompatibility between options. If I had a dialog box that took care of the interplay between options, that would make my life a lot easier. Is there any good place for authors to start their dialog programming effort (apart from http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/lang/db-intro/db1.html)? If not, why not? If so, why are they not rushing to use it?

Martin


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