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The Net Takeaway: Why no color syntax highlighting in SPSS Syntax?


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Why no color syntax highlighting in SPSS Syntax? · 08/23/2004 03:48 PM, Analysis

This keeps coming up on the mailing lists. Everyone asks for a quality external editor to edit their scripts. Why? Because SPSS gives a glorified notepad using a proportional font as their primary development environment to their users.

Now, I use Jedit (and if only Jext were to merge their gui with Jedit’s power…) and I’ve been gradually making a syntax file which I will provide here somepoint soon… but after 12 (soon to be 13) versions, couldn’t SPSS just provide syntax highlighting in their “editor” component? If nothing else, bold the period or flag with an “arrow” when a period appears to be missing.

Yes, one can now change the fonts across SPSS… so why ship with an arial-type default? Switch to a clean courier so at least columns can line up properly.

And how about editor macros? For example, I re-use the GET DATA commands to access our main datawarehouse. I wind up having to copy a SQL statement, paste it, then waste 10 minutes putting quotes around each line and dealing with any quotes inline. A simple macro would let me fix this in seconds (and its easy in Jedit… but why do I have to use an external editor for this?).

The editors recommended on the mailing lists are all fine shareware choices… but I think the open source editors are much more powerful. That being said, none of this should be an issue when dealing with syntax. SPSS should be our IDE, not some external editor.

The “real” users of SPSS (and by that, I mean anyone who uses SPSS outside of a stats 101 class) all wind up in the syntax window. Its time to make that easier.

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