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st: Dialog Programming

From   Martin Weiss <>
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 If not, why not? If so, why are they not rushing to use it?


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