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Re: release plans

From: Kevin Smith
Subject: Re: release plans
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 22:03:01 -0500 (EST)


My name is Kevin Smith. I am a Ph.D. psychologist, and statistician. I have been monitoring the this list for some time watching the progress of the application development. I have a few thoughts on some of the ideas that Jason mentioned below. First, reading SAS data sets is not a simple task. SAS data sets or specific to major version, bit ordering and operating system (in some cases anyhow). One of the major problems that I have run in to as a SAS user is that old data can no longer be read by newer versions of SAS, and thus users with such data are left with no options. I can see a potential market for an application which can read such data, but I also know that the file formats for SAS datasets (even the old ones) are considered trade secrets. I assume that getting SPSS data formats is equally as difficult as SAS doesn't read SPSS data. Is what Jason is suggesting really feasible? As far as syntax files, certainly SAS syntax is just plain text. I don't have a lot of experience with language parsers but SAS and SPSS aren't fully comparible in terms of what algorithms are used on a huge range of functions. Nor is data handled in the same manner, so I am uncertain how feasible this idea is. Perhaps you might consider a compiled (or pre-piled) cross platform macro language. Protection of intellectual property that is found in macros is a fairly big deal. Big enough that SAS is trying to implement an encryption, but nothing like macros of format libraries are cross platform or even typically cross version compatible so that is an area where you might draw in some users.

Just my two cents...


On Wed, 20 Dec 2006, Jason Stover wrote:

I think "we" (that means either Ben or John) should add the ability to
read SAS data sets to PSPP. I have no idea how hard this would be, or
how long it would take. I can't remember if someone already mentioned
it on the list, but a quick search of the archive didn't show

Anyway, such functionality would expand the number of users
by a lot. SAS Inc. has far more customers than its competitor in
Chicago, and neither program can read the other's data sets
(I think). A statistician is typically handed several data sets,
in many formats, and spends quite a bit of time merging them and
checking them all. One of the most common data formats is that of
SAS, so having the ability to read that format would make PSPP
useful to a lot more people. Any program that can read many data
formats will be very desirable among statisticians, even if its
statistical abilities are limited.

Another way to reach a lot more users is to make PSPP able to
read SAS and SPSS syntax. I know that would be difficult, but
I believe it would make PSPP useful to many more people. I think
SAS syntax used to compile into C, it may still do so. It's syntax
looks like C syntax, so reading it may not be that difficult.

I know you can't implement both of these ideas before the next
release, or maybe ever, but they are goals worth considering if they
aren't impossibly difficult.

And I'm still debugging the time series module.


On Mon, Dec 18, 2006 at 09:28:35AM -0800, Ben Pfaff wrote:
I think that we should starting planning a new release,
presumably 0.5.0, for sometime in January or February.  I've
tagged all the bugs with my opinion on whether they're pre-0.5.0
or post-0.5.0 material.

What else do we want to see in 0.5.0?  In my opinion the bug
system is actually a pretty good way to manage this kind of
thing, so you might consider filing a wishlist bug and assigning
it to yourself for anything you'd want to make the release.


As for 0.6.0: I want to rewrite the output system for that
release.  I desperately need to get my ideas for that to the
mailing list, but not this morning.

Ben Pfaff
email: address@hidden

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