Wishes and Grumbles

These notes on the “Wishes and Grumbles” may be a bit cryptic, but should be of some interest. This is just one self-selected sample of users at one time and in one place (kept to order by some brisk chairing from Patrick Royston). Probably StataCorp got off lightly on this list, especially on statistical commands...

Nicholas J. Cox

Data management

  1. Stata is based on a flat or rectangular structure (observations X variables). Could it be extended to allow hierarchical structures?
    [On this there was vigorous but far from unanimous support]
  2. reshape is widely found awkward to use (or at least to teach). Could there be a pop-up window version? A better help file? Or a good tutorial article?
  3. label: longer value labels allowed?
  4. outfile: splits words sometimes; needs fixing


  1. gph open inhibits graph using
  2. different line types (dotted, dashed, ...) without recourse to Stage
  3. exact axes specifiable in real units (inches/cm) (scatter plots with equal y and x scales as special case)
  4. portrait graphics as well as landscape
  5. customise default settings
  6. top titles should not overwrite legends
  7. line types in legends
  8. should be able to remove axes
  9. interactive editing using mouse
  10. easier production of presentation graphics
  11. 3D: contour plots and surface views
  12. dynamic graphics (e.g. rotation of point clouds)
    [On this there was vigorous but far from unanimous support]


  1. weights: some doubts and difficulties
  2. svy commands: standard error for proportions
  3. panel data: instrumental variables with xtreg
  4. random effects/multilevel/hierarchical: widely thought very important
  5. corrected relative survival
  6. rate ratios


  1. limits on matrix size irksome
  2. put several commands on one line
  3. output of e.g. correlation results to matrix should be easier


  1. subprogram to return a value
  2. nested parentheses in options e.g. mytitle("Stata graph (with data!)")
  3. leading and trailing spaces in options to be acted on
  4. stub for sets of temporary variable names?
  5. nested trace
  6. report where program was when it failed

OS and interface

  1. Stata to understand S-Plus code
  2. Garbage left in C:\TEMP or equivalent
  3. Graph preferences awkward to set
  4. Customise Help window to default to either lookup or help <command>
  5. Split big help files
  6. Print log file problem with fonts
  7. Save commands as journals
  8. Check syntax before running file (lint for Stata)