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Re: st: Copying Stata code with line numbers

From   Nick Cox <>
Subject   Re: st: Copying Stata code with line numbers
Date   Thu, 8 Mar 2012 08:31:01 +0000

I don't know where Partho gets the impression that "very few regular
Stata programmers use the built-in editor".

More seriously, I am happy to agree that good text editors are
immensely helpful, but I'd place the emphasis elsewhere.

Let's not get sidetracked by distinguishing "regular programmers",
however defined, from other users, or by focusing on what they use,
not least because the do-file editor is not primarily designed as a
programmers' editor. It is for do-file editing, primarily. So, it is
aimed very much at all users who are not satisfied by interactive
sessions in which each command is typed one at a time. That should be
most users. (A do-file is not a program as such. Whether it defines a
program is a different issue.)

A little history here: When the do-file editor was introduced into
Stata there were already very well-developed text editors in existence
and Stata's developers were very well aware that many users were using
them intensively: after all, that was precisely what the developers
were doing themselves. Also, there was not, and is not, any kind of
consensus on the leading text editor, even within users of a single
operating system. Even among Unix users, there was much friendly and
some angry disagreement between users of vi, emacs and other editors.
So, there was no real mileage in announcing to Stata users that the
standard would be to use a particular external editor, even one that
was free. (It remains true, I think, that many Windows users make
little or no use of text editors any way; most of the students I ask
(age ~ 20) don't seem to know about Notepad, not that they are missing

In essence, the Stata do-file editor was originally _designed_ to be a
very simple editor, one that could be learned very quickly and had
just about the minimum needed. Criticising it as unsophisticated is
like criticising a bicycle for not being a plane.

Over the years  StataCorp have subverted that original aim to some
extent by adding some features in most if not all subsequent releases,
but there is no intention to try to match the better-developed editors
in functionality.

I program in Stata and when that gets a little serious I always switch
to my favourite text editor, which happens to be Vim. But I use
Stata's do-file editor daily too. It's fine, indeed very helpful, for
little editing jobs, not least in fiddling with code or data fragments
from Statalist questions. I suspect that's a common mix of styles.


On Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 5:10 AM, Partho Sarkar <> wrote:
> Well Charles, firstly I don't know what the Stata 12 editor is like,
> so some of what I say below may no longer apply.  But I use Stata 11,
> and switched to Notepad++ recently, after hearing about it for a long
> time from experienced Stata users, on this forum and elsewhere.  For
> me, the switch has made do file editing dramatically  easier.  For a
> list of some of the gains, see this blog post by Mitch Abdon
>  Just to mention some of the added
> features (the quotes are from above blog):
> 1. "Matching pairs of parentheses or braces are highlighted. I like
> this the most because it makes it easier to look for missing pairs".
> 2. "I now have a “Word wrap” option. This minimizes the use of “///”
> or other delimiters."
> 3.  Advanced search & replace, including regular expressions & wildcards.
> 4.  A battery of free plugins for, among other things, even more
> advanced search (across files, for example).
> As a matter of fact, I have the impression think very few regular
> Stata programmers use the built-in editor (at least this was so till
> Stata 11).  There is a very good FAQ/ review of alternative Stata do
> file editors by Nick Cox (don't have the reference handy, but I am
> sure you can find it quite easily)
> Hope this helps
> Partho

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