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Re: PSPPire problems

From: John Darrington
Subject: Re: PSPPire problems
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 20:38:36 +0900
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

Many thanks for such a detailed and comprehensive mail.  Most of the
items you raise fall into the category of
       a) fixed in version 0.7.x; OR
       b) Works, but only in syntax - no menu written yet

I'll try and address the points you raise one-by-one

On Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:47:00AM +0100, Matej Kovacic wrote:

     1. Problem with unicode support.
     I found some problems when trying to open SAV data file which contains
     data in unicode (slovenian characters čšž/ČŠŽ) and/or variable names in
     unicode. Instead of slovenian characters I get just queston marks

This should work, but you have to make sure that the character
encoding of your current locale is the same as the encoding of the
data file you are trying to open.  However, if your system locale is
UTF-8, and your dataset is encoded in  (say) iso-8859-1 then you will
get the invalid characters changed to ? like you described.
     2. Importing data.
     There is a lack of importing data from Excel, OOo Calc and dbase format.
     It would also be fine to have support for importing data from Access
     database and to have ability for direct connection to SQL database (for
     instance MySQL and/or Postgres)

Connecting to a Postgres database is already supported.  See
Importing from a Gnumeric spreadsheets is also supported, see
Also, importing from almost any kind of text delimited file (such as
csv) is very simple. Click on File->Import Delimeted Text Data
The other formats you mention may be supported in a future release. 
     3. Exporting data.
     Unfortunately there is no exporting to other formats except SAV and POR.
     It would be fine to have at least exporting to tab-delimited TXT and
     CSV, OOo Calc and Excel would be just great.

This can be done through the WRITE command.  However there's no menu
option to assist you.
     4. Merging datafiles.
     Merging is very useful function and I would be very glad to have option
     to merge datafiles (add cases and add variables). Aggregate function
     would also be useful.

Merging of data files is supported with the MATCH FILES command.
Version 0.7.x also has the ADD FILES and UPDATE FILES commands.
The AGGREGATE command was one of the very first commands ever to be
implemented in Pspp and has been working very well so far as I'm
aware (no menu yet).
     5. Count function in menu.
     In Transform menu I would liek to see Count function. In fact in syntax
     it is implemented, so it is probably trivial to implement it into psppire.

You can achieve a very similar thing through the NVALID function.
This is available through the Compute menu.
     6. Selecting cases.
     Selecting does not work similar to SPSS - in fact, just selecting cases
     (not deleting them) is not working at all. SPSS creates some special
     binary variable, which selects cases (1 or 0), and unselected cases are
     crossed out.

So far as I'm aware, Psppire works identically to Spss in this
respect, except that in v 0.6.0 the unselected cases aren't crossed
out in the way you describe.  This has been implemented in 0.7.x
     There is also no option to select cases based on user-defined criteria
     (IF (variable01 = 5) and variable02 < 8) --> select case)

You're right, this hasn't yet been done in the menus.
     Random sampling is also not working. I have a very large data set
     (>500.000 cases) and tried to make a sample of 100 - nothing happened.
It works for me.  Perhaps you forgot to hit the "Run Pending
Transformations" button?
     7. Output.
     OK, for output you know exactly what should be done, probably better
     than me. :-)

Yes.  Better output is something that is sorely needed.
     8. Additional analysis.
     Do you have some priority list for implementation of statistical functons?
     I am teaching at the university and working in public opinion research
     institute and my recommendation would be: correlations, factor analysis,
     clustering (especially dendrogram), principal component analysis.
     Maybe you could also "copy" that functions from R-project, which is also

The closest thing to a priority list is the bug tracker at  If there's something that
you want, feel free to raise a wishlist bug.  If such bug has already
been raised, you can "vote" for that item to indicate you'd like to
see it done.
Using code from R is unlikely to happen for the reasons mentioned in
the Pspp FAQ:

     However, the majority of problems is related to data manipulation and I
     believe it is not really a problem, because data manipulation
     (importing, exporting, etc.) is something which is already implemented
     in various opensource programs and could be "copied".
See above.

     Another set of problems in related to user interface (yes, graphs are
     also something importand), but is already at least half-implemented (GNU
     Plot, HTML/Postcript output in pspp).

Hopefully some better graphing ability will appear along with the new output.
     P. S. - if you need test datasets with unicode data/variables, let me know.
Some sample .sav files with Slovenian character sets would be very
useful, because so far we've only tested with Western European
datasets.   Please send what you've got to address@hidden

Thanks once again for your comments.  Please ask if you need
clarification on any of my replies.


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