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From |
"Nick Cox" <[email protected]> |

To |
<[email protected]> |

Subject |
RE: st: GLM and ANOVA complaints |

Date |
Mon, 29 Sep 2003 11:46:04 +0100 |

Dave Airey wrote, among other things, > The fact that many rely on desmat and its authors generous efforts > means it should have been duplicated by Stata or incorporated as an > official command by now. The fact here is undoubted, but the principle Dave invokes is questionable. -desmat- is one of many user-written programs which are very much respected and very well used. However, it doesn't follow inevitably that it should be adopted by Stata Corp. In saying this I am not writing against -desmat-, which as it happens I almost never use, not that anything whatsover can be inferred from that. (I don't use -xi- that much either.) I just want to put that comment by Dave in a much wider context. Among the issues which affect adoption of user-written software by Stata Corp are 0. Whether it's important or indeed worthwhile. User demand is naturally one key source of information here. In addition, Stata Corp reserve the right to have excellent ideas and then wait for the users to see how good they are. They also reserve the right to be a little bit capricious. 1. The need to test, maintain (fix bugs; update as other aspects of Stata change) and where appropriate enhance software. 2. The need to provide technical support and documentation. Almost everybody has some concerns about bloated documentation while at the same time wanting Stata to expand to do twenty extra things! Everybody will want Stata technical support at a very high level. Things being what they are, there are some very popular user-written programs in which only the authors (and possibly some other users) could provide adequate technical support. That definitely inhibits adoption. 3. Compatibility with the rest of Stata. An idiosyncratic program, even if important and widely used, has much more difficulty getting adopted than something smaller, and perhaps less widely used, or less widely useful, that fills a definite gap in Stata or extends it painlessly. 4. Avoiding short-termism. There is no attraction in adopting something which will itself be superseded by a later more general or deeper innovation. Of course, users cannot see as far as even the next release. (Stata Corp at this time probably can't all the way either.) Some things remain on long-term agendas because no one at Stata Corp has yet had the bright idea which will unlock the door -- just as many of us have research problems which interest us, but no glimmer of a real solution yet. Of course, Stata can drop things as well as add them, but it's reluctant to do that. (For example, Stata Corp showed no interest in adopting what was probably the favourite of my own programs, with very good reason, because Stata 8's new graphics superseded it almost completely.) 5. Finite resources. As Rich Goldstein hinted, prioritising something implies pushing something else down the queue. I'm a amateur programmer myself; I nevertheless imagine that Stata users who are not professional programmers (that means, amateur programmers and non-programmers) often see adoption of user-written software as essentially a formalisation of just four facts: the program exists and appears in good condition the help file exists, ditto it's popular, at least for certain groups Stata Corp approve in some sense If these were the criteria, then probably a couple of hundred user-written Stata programs qualify immediately! For professional programmers, however, getting the code to work and a help file up and ready is often the least onerous part of the work. As said, I want to generalise beyond -desmat-, but I'll make one further guess in that case. I am pretty clear that the popularity of -desmat- is read at Stata Corp as a strong sign that many users find -xi- inadequate. However, the Stata inclination is to treat that as a signal to take a very serious look at -xi-. Does it need extending or rewriting? I have no idea whether anyone is working on that right now, however. Nick [email protected] * * For searches and help try: * http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html * http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq * http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/ * * For searches and help try: * http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/res/findit.html * http://www.stata.com/support/statalist/faq * http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/

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