13 comments for “IBM SPSS Statistics 19.0 Thoughts

  1. July 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I am a Win7-64, v18 user (used to use v15/v17).

    I agree with the formatting stuff. I am having trouble visualizing what you mean by’varable folders’. Can you draw me a picture? Are you thinking something like a variable explorer (as in the old SPSS Dimensions)?

    I would also add that the viewer has become extremely sluggish (perhaps this is a result of the new java interface??). It takes FOREVERto cut out or copy large tables from the viewer . It even takes a lot of time for the viewer to display. Much worse that in v15.

    My most wanted capability would be syntax ‘alias’ just like ‘Set’ in VB for apps. I would really like to create a global syntax file that I can update over time rather than going through all of my syntax and changing file names and otehr parameters manually. Perhaps there is already a way to do this using scripting or Python prog blocks (do tell if you know about this), but I’d really love to see this built into the syntax method.

    Lastly, the program itself is very sluggish at times and prone to crashing and other oddities (I frequently kill/restart the process). It also hogs memory and takes quite awhile to release it back to the OS after the ‘work’ is finished. Same goes for the sort (which has always been WAY slow in all versions). Sorting goes through 3 iterations, and it takes about 3-5 minutes to sort 2 million cases with about 150-200 variables. It takes around 24 hours to sort 90+ million cases with only about 10 variables! Granted, these numbers are big, but other programs/interfaces sort data much faster.

    thanks for the blog.


    • July 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Probably the best example of “variable folders” I can think of would be be equivalent to layer groups in Photoshop — basically, you could take a set of variables, assign them to a group and then make them all vanish so that only the group header were shown. My data files would be so much easier to manage if I could put all of my demographic variables into a “folder” or group labels “Demographics” — and even better, put the different kinds of demographic variables into sub folders.

      It just speaks to the fact that SPSS 18 and (probably) SPSS 17 don’t really do much to help users with their workflow. It’s as if they think we’re just going to run a couple of analysis and put it away until next time. Whereas when I work with a dataset, I tend to have to work all the way through it from top to bottom!

      I agree with all your points, David — which is why I’m continuing to use SPSS 15 and have refused to upgrade — even though the disks are sitting right next to me (alright, practically right next to me).

  2. Andreas Kühn
    August 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Mark,

    i absolutly agree with your format hints about spss. Also i’m annoyed about cut/paste between different applications (mostly excel). I’ve been using spss many times and your whishes for 19 are brilliant. I never thought about folder options, but it could make sense in front of multiple responses.

    I’m not shure if it is a Java problem about sluggish spss. The gist in spss is using a strong syntax. For myself, i wish more options in using the spss syntax for daily workarounds, e.g. Davids global syntax file. I’m not amused about using VB more often i would.

    I hope the guys at ibm / spss will attend to this post.


  3. Leigh Morris
    August 19, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I work in a medium sized market research agency. We have five licensed users of SPSS and about a year ago we all made the decision to revert from v.18 back to v.15 – which is much much faster. I’m arguing with SPSS about whether or not we should continue to pay the yearly maintenance fee!

  4. Dave
    September 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I can empathise with your experience of using the new Java based platform. V15 is still easily the most reliable to work with on a day-to-day basis. I am looking forward to exploring V19 though. V18 was a big improvement over the original Java based versions, which were very good at crashing but not for getting any analysis done!

    In terms of variable organisation, have you used the use sets function? This essentially lets you put variables into folders and select which ones to show/hide. I find it very useful for very wide data sets. But, perhaps you are after greater flexibility than this?

  5. siswanto
    September 22, 2010 at 2:51 am

    i have developt sript spss tables (Now, Custome tables) in excel by vba excel. It just like as a generating syntax spss in VBA Excel. It is Very usefull for Large Tables.

  6. Skirmantas Janusonis
    September 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    As of this writing, stay away from SPSS 19:

  7. Fatimah Jones
    September 26, 2010 at 11:06 am

    In my work we decided to switch to PSPP instead of SPSS. So far we’ve found it a superb alternative. It has saved the company $$$$ and workes exactly like SPSS so everyone already knw how to use it. The only problem is that it doesn’t yet have all the advanced statistics but fortunately we haven’t needed them yet.

  8. Joey Smith
    October 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    All of you are right! I’ve using spss since 1991 and let me tell you. After SPSS 14, the only good thing I perceive in newest versions is its appearance. I prefer to stick to versions 13 or 14. I don’t like to use custom tables very often, I prefer Global tables, Tables of Frequencies, Basic tables, etc in the menu. Sorry if I bother the IBM/SPSS people.

  9. Lailah Hamblin
    May 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I just switched to 19 recently and am having lots of difficulties with copy and paste. I am trying to enter data into a new variable and then copy it and paste it all the way down, to about 12,000 cases or so. It took me forever to do this yesterday, and then when I got down to the bottom and right clicked to paste, I waited and waited and waited and it never pasted. I just got the hourglass symbol and after an hour I just had to shut it down. I never had this problem in 15.

    What is the short cut to copy all the way down to the end? I never needed a short cut in 15. It just zipped right down. But even if I do figure out a short cut, how long is it going to take to paste??

  10. Jon Peck,
    November 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Organizing variables: variable sets can go a long way to organize variables into groups. Also the views via names or labels, sorting by file position, alphabetically, or by measurement level all help. Also, using extension commands, you can easily generate macros for selected sets of variables based on many properties, including custom attributes, measurement level, patterns in names (all variables whose name includes “age”) etc.

    For one of the commenters: FILE HANDLE. You can factor out references to specific locations and files. And programmability makes it easy to organize code into functional modules.

    Interface speed: Version 20 has dramatically improved the speed of table rendering – back comparable with what it was in V15. Also a number of fixes to data copy and paste.

  11. spotfire
    November 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    variable folders – see Variable Sets. I think it does exactly what you want… pity there is no syntax for this (but settings are saved with a file)

  12. Max
    July 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I’m working with SPSS at the moment and have found it extremely sluggish and frustrating to use. Its all the more annoying for me because I’m an R user and I’m only using SPSS because the dataset I’m working with came in that format. My take on this is that when working with large datasets we should all be using a proper database such as MySQL (or even Access) for data manipulation and querying, and R (or even STATA) for statistical analysis. STATA is cheaper than SPSS and R is free!
    For your idea of variable folders and aliases, try using a db with a few topic-specific queries set up on it.
    Theres no reason to use SPSS; they are just freewheeling and making money from people’s inertia.

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