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Wishes and grumbles

The following issues were raised during the "Wishes and grumbles" session, with StataCorp developers William Gould and Chinh Nguyen responding to comments from the participants.

With Stata 8 just out, there were not too many wishes and only a few grumbles. Everyone seems to be pleased with the look of the new graphics, but the primary grumble is with how slow they are. Bill Gould promises there will very soon be an update that improves graphics speed by 50%. Improvement beyond that will take some time.

Other comments during the session:

  1. Add a macro for Stata version number. It turns out that this is already available as c(version_number).

  2. Institute an auto-update feature: Upon startup Stata should check whether it has been updated in the last four months (or other specified interval) and, if not, suggest that the user type update.

  3. Allow multiple preferences: Give the user the ability to save multiple window preferences.

  4. Add a keyboard shortcut for the Run command from the Do-file editor: Note: this is already available in Windows, so StataCorp is interpreting this as a request for this feature on the Mac.

  5. Add more SMCL translators, especially HTML.

  6. Improve SMCL.

  7. Better way of discerning between multiple instances of Stata: At the moment, the second Stata session is titled '2-Stata' but in discussion that followed this request, it was agreed that giving the user the ability to set the window title would be best. This would be on Windows and Unix only because the Mac does not allow the user to change the Application title while the application is running.

  8. Abbreviated help files for graph with more examples. This request generated a lot of comments/suggestions about online documentation versus traditional user manuals. StataCorp and users are still thinking about this.

  9. Improve error messages to differentiate whether an error is in the syntax of an option or whether the option itself is invalid.

  10. The Review window in the Windows version jumps down to the newly inserted command even when the scrollbar is scrolled to the top. StataCorp admitted confusion because the opposite behavior was in Stata 7 and was changed in Stata 8 because many users requested the current behavior. It was suggested that this should be set as a preference so that the user could choose the default behavior.

  11. Break query into categories: StataCorp response: This is already available. You can type, for instance, query graphics.

  12. Enable set memory with auto preserve. StataCorp response: would a separate command (ado-file) rather than modification to set memory be sufficient? The general feeling was that it would be.

  13. Make it possible to copy lines from the Review window and print them: StataCorp response: copying from the Review window is already available in Mac and Unix but it only copies directly to the Do-file editor. Copying and printing individual lines requires that the Review window not automatically insert lines into the Command window when a line is single-clicked (you would have to double-click).

  14. Add the Classification Analysis for Regression Trees (CART) procedure.

  15. Add a a user preference that would automatically drop _merge, if it exists, when the user performs a new merge.

  16. Check the way option unique works in merge and make the documentation clear as to whether unique only verifies that the merged observations are unique or whether all observations are unique; no matter what, introduce another option that does the complement.

  17. Allow merge to create a _dup variable for the number of duplicates after a merge. StataCorp response: highly negative.

  18. Allow unicode in input, output, and data sets.

Submitted in writing:

  1. The menu system/GUI, at the moment, has a primitive help attached to it; e.g., there is no way to search for how to navigate the GUI! Please attach a good help system to the GUI.