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RE: st: RE: list in stata8

From   Fred Wolfe <>
Subject   RE: st: RE: list in stata8
Date   Wed, 26 Feb 2003 07:24:44 -0600

At 02:47 PM 2/25/2003 +0000, you wrote:

But I am still puzzled -- and this is
curiosity, not criticism in disguise.

-list- for me is the ideal when I want
to look at (usually some of) the data,
and there isn't too much of it. I don't want to scan
hundreds of observations or lots of variables.
It is tedious, and I am not very good at it.

Or -- I thought there shouldn't be many
instances of something, and it turns out
there are lots: surprise, but -break- out
of the -list- straight away.

If I want to look at the data, and I need
for some reason to look at lots, -edit-
is much more flexible.

If I want to find something, or whether something
exists, Stata is better and quicker at that than my eyes
are, so I work out the command language

So, what are these long (or wide) -list-s being used
for? (I repeat: curiosity, not criticism.)

Here are some ways I use long lists.

1) If I want to see, for various reasons, a subset of the data defined by an if clause.
e.g. l patkey data haq pain if tagged == 1
2) If I want to see a pattern repeated through the data to understand if a program has worked as I anticipated or data have been collected as I think they were.

Wide listing is rather rare. I usually do it to look at a pattern of responses from observation to observation. As an example. If I might say to myself, "Hmm, strange that there are so many missings for var34, I wonder if there are other missings in var 67-103 in some observations?"

In this situation, I do think the older -list- is rather easier to read. It is not possible to get that format with list v8.

None of this is so very important. What used to be "l x x z" if now "l x y z, noc nol clean" The new list is quite nice in many ways, It is just somewhat more difficult to work with.

Is Stata changing? I used to tell people that one reason that Stata was so good was that it was written by people who actually used data and understood the users' problems. So that all of the conveniences for the data users were there (you can make up your list). But this version changes some of this. You can't move windows around very easily because of the demands of the new GUI interface; the default behavior of -list- is to display labels not codes and to be slow, the fast graphics that were so wonderful for looking at data are v7 will soon disappear from the collective memory as they become "deprecated" and lost from the manuals. There are many great new things in Stata 8, don't get me wrong. But I wish that the trade-off between convenience and operator time and "beauty" had found a way to better protect convenience and operator time.

Fred Wolfe


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Fred Wolfe Tel (316) 263-2125
National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases Fax (316) 263-0761
Wichita, Kansas
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