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RE: st: RE: list in stata8

From   Buzz Burhans <>
Subject   RE: st: RE: list in stata8
Date   Wed, 26 Feb 2003 10:38:13 -0500

At 08:12 AM 2/26/03 -0600, you wrote:
As I suggested previously - I am saddened to see that Stata is being driven
more and more towards accommodating  cosmetics rather than statistics. I
assume this is a market-driven neccessity and done with reluctance by Stata
IMHO, this is very unfair.

The new Stata 8 is substantively enhanced in functionality, whether or not it comes along with each of our various preferences still intact. The discussion of "list' reveals substantial differences of opinion regarding preferred default behavior, and it appears that some of the actual improved functionality is offset, at least for now in selcted circumstances, by differences in speed. Where old functionality or ease of use have been comprimised, sometimes there are workarounds (perhaps at some point "list" will have user specified default preference settings or somthing like that), other times one has to learn to live with the changes if one wants to capture the enhancements.

This discussion of "list" does not in any way negate that the latest version of Stata is functionally improved in many ways.Having been around software upgrades for probably too many years, one comes to realize that every update of favorite software brings a measure of discomfort as what was customary is replaced. I, for instance, am grateful for other speed enhancements in Stata 8 that make my use of gllamm fast enough in Stata 8 to be a feasible alternative to having to use yet another different software program at least some of the time. It is these kinds of substantive improvements that make upgrading Stata worthwhile.

Even when some of the changes to things like the GUI are "cosmetic", they presumably contribute to the survivability and viability of Stata in the marketplace. That viability is important to me, because I don't want to work on a program that is going to become obsolete, or alternatively, prohibitively expensive because it has only a limited user base. I suspect that some of the "cosmetic" changes address the marketability of Stata, and I support those efforts even if I don't use them. When I was an graduate student at Cornell basic graduate level stats was taught using a much less powerful program that was nonetheless simpler to use at that point because it had a user friendly GUI. It was the first program I bought. It would be better for most of us Stata afficiandos if it had been Stata perhaps, and "cosmetic" improvements are integral to what makes a program both attractive and viable in the long run.

Finally, I am a bit concerned that the tenor of the discussion is more negative than the Stata Corp people deserve. There will always be offsets in "comfort" when upgrading; I would hope that the tenor of the discussion would not make Stata hesitant to plowing forward with new improvements because for fear of the risks of disturbing some of us as we loose our comfort zones. For some of us, the "comfort zone" offsets in this release are minor compared to the gains in functionality. I for instance, would like them to keep focusing on developing the capacity for heirarchical models...the issues surrounding "list" pale for me compared to the need for stronger hierarchical modeling capabilities. Stata Corp is amazingly responsive to user input...I would hope that where we as users have legitimate critical inputs we would do it in a positive way that recognizes Stata's sensitivity to our voices.

Sorry for the length, but the tenor of the criticism has at times been disconcerting, even if the substance of it has been valid.

Buzz Burhans

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