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Re: release plans

From: Ben Pfaff
Subject: Re: release plans
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 22:02:07 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.110006 (No Gnus v0.6) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

Kevin Smith <address@hidden> writes:

>   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.  

Pleased to meet you.

> 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.

Usually, this just means that it takes a lot of time to figure
out how the format works.  Thus, to make it work properly you
need someone with a lot of time on his hands, and by preference a
working copy of each version of SAS whose format you're
interested in.

In other words, I'd categorize SAS data file formats as "lots of
work" not as "impossible", etc.

> I assume that getting SPSS data formats is equally as difficult
> as SAS doesn't read SPSS data.

SPSS published an older version of their data file format on the
web several years ago, giving us a head start on that format.
Since then they've only made minor changes, so it hasn't been a
big problem.

> 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.  [...]

This part sounds less plausible to me, too, than understanding
the SAS data format.  Perhaps we could start a separate ASA
project :-)
Ben Pfaff 
email: address@hidden

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