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Re: st: Understanding the difference between gen and egen

From   Richard Williams <>
Subject   Re: st: Understanding the difference between gen and egen
Date   Wed, 14 Jun 2006 09:49:39 -0500

At 11:41 AM 6/13/2006, Dick Campbell wrote:
Why do I care about all of this? Because in my attempts to convince my
colleagues that Stata has many virtues compared to other software that
starts with "S" I am told that Stata is "hard to get into." That isn't true of course,
but the fact that so many extremely useful aspects of Stata are user written and
hence not in official documentation, does make things more complicated. I
I think another, and perhaps bigger, aspect of this is context-sensitive help and the extent to which the pull-down menus help you. I find it far easier to avoid menus in Stata than I do in SPSS. On the other hand, when moving into unfamiliar territory, I find SPSS sometimes easier. For example, when computing variables, I can easily get to help that defines what the various functions do. SPSS takes up far more space on my HD and I bet much of that is due to user interface and cutesy ways for manipulating the look of output.

My guess is that SPSS is an easier program for many people to learn and develop minimal competency with. However, if you put some modest effort in to learning it, Stata can be a much quicker and more powerful program. I suspect many of the people here on Statalist would have been programmers in another life, but for those who view computer software as a necessary evil at best, I can see the appeal of a program like SPSS that insulates you from the actual programming as much as possible.

Richard Williams, Notre Dame Dept of Sociology
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