Making Statistics Files Accessible by Evan Miller.
From the post:
There’s little in modern society more frustrating than receiving a file from someone and realizing you’ll need to buy a jillion-dollar piece of software in order to open it. It’s like, someone just gave you a piece of birthday cake, but you’re only allowed to eat that cake with a platinum fork encrusted with diamonds, and also the fork requires you to enter a serial number before you can use it.
Wizard often receives praise for its clean statistics interface and beautiful design, but I’m just as proud of another part of the software that doesn’t receive much attention, ironically for the very reason that it works so smoothly: the data importers. Over the last couple of years I’ve put a lot of effort into understanding and picking apart various popular file formats; and as a result, Wizard can slurp down Excel, Numbers, SPSS, Stata, and SAS files like it was a bowl of spaghetti at a Shoney’s restaurant.
Of course, there are a lot of edge cases and idiosyncrasies in binary files, and it takes a lot of mental effort to keep track of all the peculiarities; and to be honest I’d rather spend that effort making a better interface instead of bashing my head against a wall over some binary flag field that I really, honestly have no interest in learning more about. So today I’m happy to announce that the file importers are about to get even smoother, and at the same time, I’ll be able to put more of my attention on the core product rather than worrying about file format issues.
The astute reader will ask: how will a feature that starts receiving less attention from me get better? It’s simple: I’ve open-sourced Wizard’s core routines for reading SAS, Stata, and SPSS files, and as of today, these routines are available to anyone who uses R — quite a big audience, which means that many more people will be available to help me diagnose and fix issues with the file importers.
In case you don’t recognize the Wizard software, there’s a reason the site has “mac” in its name: http://www.wizardmac.com. 😉