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From |
Nick Cox <n.j.cox@stata.com> |

To |
statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu |

Subject |
Re: st: undocumented command * |

Date |
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 17:07:52 -0500 |

Sorry, but this seems backwards to me.

1. The apparent difficulty of getting one external text editor to recognise Stata's syntax properly when highlighting does not weigh heavily as a general constraint on everyone's coding practices.

2. Declaring a personal preference against * is fine by me, but as also explained it is not the only option, so feel free not to use them then. The same comment applies about the general situation with extra force.

3. In general, there has to be a really, really good argument for abandoning anything in Stata, even with mechanisms like version control.

If we went back in a time machine to 1984, I think I would you join in suggesting not to use * in this way, but that's clearly fantastical.

Nick

n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk

Gabi Huiber wrote:

Right, * is a comment marker, but should it be used? There are two other ways to mark your comments in Stata, each useful in its own way: One is the double forward slash: // It has the small advantage that you can use it both in a stand-alone line, like you would *, and at the end of a command, like save myresults, replace // and here they are But the main argument in favor using it instead of * for one-line comments is that it's unambiguous. It can only mean in-line comment, not also multiplication. The current publicly available Stata language definition sheet for Notepad++, written by Keith Kranker, treats // as a comment delimiter and turns everything that comes after it on the same line into gray italics (you can change that, of course). It tries its best to do the same with *, but here the ambiguous meaning will bite you. The language definition sheet has to tell apart somehow multiplication and comment, and its default behavior is that "* means comment if followed by a blank space; it means multiplication otherwise." So if you like your arithmetic operations with spaces before and after operators, like so a = b * c then the last c will show up in gray italics in Notepad++ (though Stata, of course, won't be fooled). If instead you like your inline comments without a space between the * and the first word, like so *file this for future reference then this will not be italicized. In addition, both "file" and "for" in this string will be color-coded as if they were Stata commands. Again Stata will correctly treat this as a comment, but in Notepad++ it won't be easy on the programmer's eye. Of course this is moot if you're using an editor that can correctly define * as "comment delimiter if found at the beginning of a line; multiplication sign otherwise". The other comment delimiter is /* */. This, I think, should only be used for bypassing code while you're drafting your do-file. When you know what you want to keep, delete that bypassed code altogether. /* */ looks atractive because for multiple comment lines it saves a lot of work, but I think that if you have to type // in front of every comment line you will be forced to choose your words well. Generous comments are good, but they shouldn't be too verbose. Having these two comment delimiters available, I really don't see any need for *. Gabi On Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 5:02 PM, Nick Cox <n.j.cox@stata.com> wrote:Whatever is undocumented is not documented. However, "not documented" means what you expect it to mean from ordinary English, while "undocumented" has a specific Stata sense of what is undocumented in the manuals but documented on-line via -help undocumented-. If you read this backwards while standing upside down and looking in a mirror, it makes more sense. Nick n.j.cox@durham.ac.uk Eva Poen wrote:I find -help undocumented- contradictory...

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**References**:**st: undocumented command ****From:*"Eva Poen" <eva.poen@gmail.com>

**Re: st: undocumented command ****From:*Richard Goldstein <richgold@ix.netcom.com>

**Re: st: undocumented command ****From:*"Eva Poen" <eva.poen@gmail.com>

**Re: st: undocumented command ****From:*Nick Cox <n.j.cox@stata.com>

**Re: st: undocumented command ****From:*"Gabi Huiber" <ghuiber@gmail.com>

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