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Data extraction. Specialty software. The dead zone. See our starting guide to using SPSS statistics software. SPSS, Inc. This lets SPSS customize the front end for each platform, and makes the software somewhat more future-proof than its past practice of outsourcing ports; but it does seem to impact the speed. To reduce confusion about the many software products produced by SPSS the company, and replace it with other types of confusion, the eponynmous statistical program was renamed to PASW in the middle of Release Well, a lot confusing, because now there are numerous PASW-branded products.
Perhaps SPSS should hire more imaginative administrators Serious power users may also run Python and R scripts. Some odd results we got in PASW 17 SPSS 17 long after our review was written have disappeared, and the program already works with Snow Leopard, though not always especially well; bugs don't seem to be getting addressed during the brief beta periods. For the impatient crowd, when you double-click on a syntax or data page, PASW now loads without pausing to show dialogue boxes or do corny effects. It seems snappier that way.
Another annoyance, having the output window shove itself in front of syntax every time you run a command, is now an option rather than mandated; you can have the program indicate that it's run something by playing a sound none come with the program but. You can change the size of dialogue boxes, so that if you want to see longer variable names in, say, Recode, you can - but you can't change the size of any particular element, resulting in some serious stretching at times.
Installing SPSS Statistics for Windows & Mac | Software Guides | IT Knowledge Base
Long variable names can also be used though with less flexibility. Dialogue boxes show the variable labels if they exist, falling back on the variable names themselves where there are no variable labels. Users can choose whether the output itself shows the variable names or labels or both , and the value names or labels or both. For the casual statistician like me who needs to model survey results or causal models, a very handy new feature in PASW 18 is the ability to label variables input, target, both, none, partition, and split ; the user can then have PASW automatically assign variables in the appropriate dialogue boxes.
This can be a major time-saver especially since it gets around some of the user interface flaws.
Another major upgrade is a graphic user interface for the powerful tables feature. The Tables feature has, in the past, been equally powerful and hard to use. Years ago, I spent hours poring over the manual and experimenting, finally getting the needed syntax from an SPSS employee; now, that would seem absurd, with a simple drag-and-drop interface belying an incredible amount of power and flexibility. As you change the options, a preview window shows exactly what you're doing, providing everything but data; and it does so instantly.
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The following table required clicking in the variables list, copy-pasting after discovering that dragging doesn't work, and in fact deselects the carefully chosen variables , then adjusting four drop-downs or click-to-get-submenus. The Tables feature produces the kind of tables some people have banged their head against the wall with Crystal Reports to get; it also provides extensive statistics if desired, and options such as leaving empty cells blank, putting in zeros, or putting in custom text. Unfortunately, Tables remains an expensive extra-cost option, and, again, it can take a good deal of experimenting and almost random clicking to get what you want.
As in the past, getting the output out of PASW and into some other program, like Word, is problematic. The output viewer remains roughly where it was when SPSS first started using proportional type; to modify a table you need to double-click, and the controls are insanely clunky throughout the process.
One annoying aspect is the delay factor.
Type in a command, hit Run, then wait, and then the empty table shows up just below the bottom of the output window. Eventually the data fills in, but one has to scroll the output window down to see it.
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On the lighter side, the tables can often be rearranged using the pivot-table feature, and after using competitors, one does appreciate the verbose output of SPSS. An export-to-Office feature provides more control over the output, too; this feature has been greatly expanded, to the point where users will need to refer to the manual to figure out how it works.
The output-export feature, though, has been made into a real power feature. EZ RFM provides recency, frequency, and monetary analysis; and enterprise users and statistical programmers will find all sorts of new additions. One handy feature of SPSS is a sort of variable spreadsheet, which makes it easy to find and manipulate each variable. The columns shown below can be widened or narrowed as needed; and some items such as value labels and missing values can be copied from one variable and pasted to others.
One can also change variable types here indeed, this is the only place for doing that easily ; but it's easier to change formatting width, decimals, and columns from syntax. Likewise, missing values, value labels, and variable labels can all be set either way, but syntax is easier.
IBM SPSS Statistics Student Version 18.0 for Windows and Mac OSX (2 of 2)
A new, and surprisingly handy, feature is the ability to have more than one dataset open at a time. Variable names can be longer than 8 characters now but spaces and many special characters are still not allowed; fortunately variable labels are also available. New users don't have to learn the syntax immediately; they can play around in the menus and submenus.
Instead, as you move the mouse over, the full name floats over, after a substantial delay; this feature tends to get in the way more than anything else. Even if you didn't, you can see the string variables easily. For the average SPSS user, who will use a relatively small number of procedures repeatedly, the Paste button is invaluable.
Instead of going to the manual immediately, the user can set all the options in this and the sub-windows, and then click on Paste. The command will then appear in the syntax window, to be re-used later, perhaps with different settings, or perhaps just with different variables. This is the easiest way to learn the syntax though it helps to have the manual as well, to see what each setting does, and in case there are syntax commands not available through the GUI.
We recommend you use the syntax guide provided on CD, or at extra cost in book form and type your commands as often as you can, instead of using the menus. Writing little programs in the syntax mode can save a great deal of time, and separates professional programs like SPSS from software which fills the needs of more casual reseachers.
The free, open-source, and hard-to-learn R project only uses syntax for most commands. For example, when running a linkage analysis to link employee survey data to customer or financial outcomes, I tend to run a number of regressions and correlations. It's far faster for me to type these commands in than to repeatedly trek through the menus. Results from your data analysis enable you to make smarter decisions more quickly by uncovering key facts, patterns, and trends.
Programs and data created and used in SPSS can be transported and used in SPSS running on other platforms, though some modifications may need to be made in programs written under one version and used under a different version.
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