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Re: st: RE: Critique on comment syntax and suggestions

From   Nick Winter <>
Subject   Re: st: RE: Critique on comment syntax and suggestions
Date   Fri, 28 Jan 2011 16:10:59 -0500

Two points:

First: The command *is* part of the comment, as far as Stata is concerned, because (1) the delimiter is ";", and (2) there is no ";" on the prior line. That one does not intend it to be part of the comment does not change the fact that by Stata's consistent rules, it is in fact part of the comment.

Second, The question is why the syntax highlighting does not color it as a comment. Here I think things are a bit more complicated. If a .do file explicitly sets the delimiter to ; and then later sets it back to cr (carriage return), then the syntax highlighting function could, in theory, track that and highlight comments accordingly.

However, a user can set the delimiter outside the do file. In this case, the delimiter for a Stata session might be ; even though the do file makes no mention of #delimit. In this case the syntax highlighting function would have no way to know what the delimiter is (or would need even more complex logic to check the current state of the delimiter at any given moment.)

That the delimiter can change seems like it presents a fundamental ambiguity for syntax highlighting.

Nick winter

On 1/28/2011 3:04 PM, Steven Samuels wrote:
As I look at Stata's output, I do think I see a small bug in the results
sysuse auto, clear
# delimit ;
// This next line won't get processed because I forgot to put a semicolon
drop if mpg ==.;

Output (SMCL or text)
sysuse auto, clear
. # delimit ;
delimiter now ;
. // This next line won't get processed because I forgot to put a semicolon
 > drop if mpg ==.;
(0 observations deleted)

Notice that the line beginning the valid command is started by a
continuation character ">". I would call this a bug, but it does not
mean that the line is part of the comment!


I think there is a small inconsistency, as Joseph pointed out. A

You are not correct, Daniel; the following line is _not_ a part of the
comment. Take a look at Joseph's message, especially his example 3 at


On Jan 28, 2011, at 2:34 PM, Daniel Feenberg wrote:

On Fri, 28 Jan 2011, Steven Samuels wrote:



I've been bitten in the past by omitting semicolons. I now use
continuation characters, and reserve the semicolon to delimit single
commands, especially for graphs, that have many, often long, options.
I find such commands easier to read and modify if each option is on a
single line. If I use continuation characters in such commands, the
lines look messy unless I line the characters up. For me that's too
much work. As Nick said, it's personal taste.

Bryce, you are asking Stata's do-file editor to find syntax errors, and I

Not really - the line:

drop if criticalvar=1;

is stricktly speaking part of the comment, and he is asking that it be
colored as a comment, to match the view that Stata will take. Currently
the editor is treating it as executable, which is clearly an incorrect
parsing of the code.

don't think that's its function. After reading the second post David
referred to (it's by Joseph Coveney), I don't really see a bug. Off
topic, "Stata" is spelled "Stata." See the FAQ Section 8.2.


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Nicholas Winter                                 434.924.6994 t
Assistant Professor                             434.924.3359 f
Department of Politics         e
University of Virginia w
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