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The Net Takeaway: SPSS: Where's the Love?


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SPSS: Where's the Love? · 03/30/2004 01:56 PM, Analysis

Though there will always be debate, the big two players in windows-based statistical packages are SPSS Inc. out of Chicago and SAS out of RTP, North Carolina.

Now, SPSS and SAS have both been around for over ten years, and both have thousands and thousands of past and present users. But notice that SAS has user groups, conferences, and tons of web pages with free code and tips. SPSS has the continually weak SPSS site, the amazing efforts of Raynald Levesque, and the SPSS mailing list.

Where are the web sites of code and tools and tips? Where are the internal tips from employees explaining how things work, why they made decisions the way they did, and hints about what’s coming next? Where are the SPSS blogs? (Ok, there aren’t lots of SAS blogs either, so fair and square). I just wish there was more community support… though the mailing list is pretty good, and sometimes even gets real SPSS insiders to comment on posts and concerns.

I will admit, SPSS doesn’t scale like I want it to, but they (SPSS) are much fairer with pricing than SAS. In addition, Clementine was making “analytic desktops” before Enterprise Miner was just a t-test. So, while I will never forget my early days of SAS, for the moment, I am an SPSS player.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that SPSS are often so close to being the right tool, but not quite there yet. They still don’t treat the tool like the mix that it has to be:

That is, they need to continue to expand the SAX basic capabilities and the “spss syntax” commands, continue to expose the object model, and also meet the needs of users who don’t need to program.

They also need to be smarter with data prep: It took til version 12 to include a deduper. 12 versions to do one of the most basic things in any type of data prep?

They also need to allow threading and faster data runs. Data is only getting bigger, and I haven’t seen major speed increases from any of the table procedures over the last 3 updates.

Ok, lots more to talk about SPSS, Clementine, and other tools like Statistica soon…

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