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st: RE: STATA Wish List

From   "David E Moore" <[email protected]>
To   [email protected]
Subject   st: RE: STATA Wish List
Date   Wed, 20 Oct 2004 13:53:41 -0700

As a long time user of SPSS who's also made the transition from academia to
market research, I can definitely sympathize with Steve. (I've deleted the
original message from stephen.kay, since the numerous replies have made it seem
unnecessary to repeat it.)  Here's my two cents:

First, a "variable view" window is an excellent idea for information browsing
purposes.  But I think it's a bad idea to encourage editing from this window as
a general practice.  (Steve did not advocate this himself, but others commenting
on his posting seemed to like this feature.)  For the same reason I counsel
against editing data directly from a "data editor" window, I usually discourage
people from making alterations via point-n-click methods that leave no trace.
Unless you're the sort that generates detailed documentation of everything you
do on every project, this sort of thing can lead to lots of mysterious errors
and/or the inability to reproduce results at a later date.  In my experience, it
is always better, if more time-consuming, to write a program for such tasks.
While perhaps not exactly self-documenting, programs at least let you know in no
uncertain terms precisely what happened to your data.  Actually, what I like
most about the variable window is the ability to copy whole lists of variable
names and labels, which I paste into Excel and programs I use for manipulating
data or output.

Second, I must be the only one who thinks the output generated by stat packages
(including SPSS, SAS, Stata, LIMDEP, Systat, Gauss, Splus, etc.) is not suitable
for reports, because I've never had any desire to copy output directly from an
output window to a word processor to use as is.  At best, copying from one to
the other saves having to type the relevant information manually, but I
typically have to spend a great deal of time reformatting everything to make it
pretty enough for my purposes.  In fact, I find utilities such as -outreg-
infinitely better suited to this task.  In fact, in an environment where
generating reams of tables is routine, the thought of copying and pasting
hundreds of tables is particularly off-putting.  Like Marcella, I basically
favor linking the desired output to Excel/Word in such a way that the formatting
is essentially automatic.  I write programs to generate output files that I load
into Excel (creating Stata data sets seems an unnecessary step), which makes the
whole process faster than copy-paste-reformat, copy-paste-reformat, ....


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