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Re: Evaluating PSPP
Re: Evaluating PSPP
Thu, 14 Aug 2008 09:57:46 -0400
Thunderbird 220.127.116.11 (X11/20080724)
Several people have responded to my original request for information.
Thank you. I will try to respond to what people have written below:
John Darrington wrote:
If you say what your company's needs are, then it'd be easier to
answer that question. Other uses have identified repeated measures
anova (aka GLM), factor analysis and reliability analysis as things
they need, so these are probably going to be implemented in future
releases. I personally have an interest in non-parametric statistics,
so you might see a few more of those too.
Also, a better output system is on the cards
( http://jstover.motd.org/cgi-bin/oddmuse.cgi/NewOutputGoals )
Like most companies (I assume) we have different "levels" of users. Most
of our SPSS users need to be able to open .sav files and generate
tables, cross-tabs, etc. for use in their reports. For these users, I
think the limited graphical output system is the biggest problem I can
see with us using PSPP. Being able to output the results to CSV (for
further analysis) and HTML (for cut/paste into a report) are both really
Other users, such as myself and a couple of others, write syntax and do
most of the actual analytical work. My existing syntax does use MANOVA
in a few places, which I can see is one function that PSPP does not
currently support. Factor analysis and reliability are also used quite
heavily. Based on your comments, I think PSPP is headed in all of the
I would also love to see syntax highlighting / line numbers in the
syntax editor. Since SPSS syntax is not something that has traditionally
been useful on a linux box, none of my favorite editors support syntax
highlighting and I have tried to use/maintain a vi syntax file, but it
would be nice to have something more complete/integrated.
I also do some GIS work, but I've been doing more and more of this in
R-CRAN and that will probably not change in the foreseeable future.
I agree. As SPSS users familiarize themselves with Python I fully expect
SPSS syntax to increasingly rely on Python, which will make for some
interesting looking syntax. Any mixing of PSPP syntax and python will
make syntax highlighting increasingly important.
A python interface is something that I think should definitely be
When I mentioned R-CRAN on this thread I was a little worried that I
might get flamed (vi v. emacs anyone?). Fortunately, I can see that this
isn't going to be an issue. I myself have not done any speed comparisons
between R and PSPP, but speed isn't why I mentioned R-CRAN. For what it
is worth, R-CRAN is an important tool in academic statistics. R already
has far more features than SPSS-base or PSPP. SPSS appears to have
developed an R plug-in for newer versions of SPSS to let advanced SPSS
users take advantage of these tools.. I don't think they have any
intention of ever replacing their engine with R's. Nor do I think PSPP
should replace it's engine with R's. The PSPP FAQ does a good job of
explaining why this wouldn't be a good idea.
With regard to R integration, most people seem to suggest that
spss/pspp could be a front-end to R's engine. That might be useful,
but I'd be much more interested in the opposite; would it be possible
to use R's syntax with PSPP's back-end? A few simple tests should
convince you that PSPP is magnetudes faster than R, so I'm not keen on
the former option.
That being said, I think a plug-in could be useful for two reasons.
1) If SPSS does it, users like me will eventually get some syntax from
someone that relies on the R plug-in. I'd like to be able to run this
syntax in PSPP.
2) R-CRAN has a wealth of useful tools that PSPP does not have. There
are some domains, such as GIS, that PSPP is not really well suited for.
If I can use R via PSPP, then I can save myself having to output my data
structure from PSPP and import it into R, and let the plug-in do all
that for me. This is time effective AND less error prone. I think there
are some good arguments for giving access to R's functions via the
syntax/command-line but not via the menu system.
I do agree, it would be really neat if we could use R syntax in PSPP.
Andrew Choens, MSW
Research Policy Analyst
Hornby Zeller Associates, Inc.
(518) 273 - 1614