General Questions

Q.  How big a data set can Stat/Transfer handle?


A.  There is no limit on the number of cases that can be handled.


Q.  How do the date formatting functions know how to write out the proper weekday and month names for languages other than English?


A.  Stat/Transfer retrieves the localized day and month names from the Windows registry.  If they are correct for your locality, they will be correct in Stat/Transfer.


Q. I have a large number of files to transfer.  I don't want to spend my day pointing and clicking. What should I do?


A. Use the Stat/Transfer Command Processor. It is documented in your manual (and in a separate chapter in the online help for the user interface). It will let you do some extremely powerful things such as extract all of the tables from an Access database in a single command or copy a whole directory full of Excel spreadsheets to Stata files.


Q.  It's the middle of the night before a crucial deadline and my transfer won't work. What should I do?


A.  It's like airplane travel.  If you can't get a direct flight between Chicago and Los Angeles, try to get one that stops in Dallas.  Consider what formats your destination program will read and the formats Stat/Transfer will write.  Or, if you are having trouble reading a file from another program, consider any different file formats that it is capable of saving.  There is usually more than one route between your source and your destination.


Q. What is the best way to pass data to my colleagues?


A.  For use with general purpose software, probably delimited ASCII is the best. It is the closest thing to a lingua franca of data transport. Stat/Transfer writes delimited data in accordance with the "standard" set by Excel, and that is followed by most software packages. Worksheet files, such as Excel '97, are widely supported as well and have the advantage of storing numbers in double precision. As a general purpose transport format between statistical packages, SPSS binary .sav files and Stata files will maintain your value and variable labels and missing values. They are also platform independent.


Q.  I want to save my data for use in the future, what should I do?


A.  If you are saving your statistical for use in the indefinite future, the best thing to do is pick one of the ASCII file + Program options and/or ASCII data plus a Stat/Transfer Schema.  Even if the particular program is no longer available in many years, you can be assured that some statistical package will be able to read your plain ASCII data and you will have the information that is necessary to re-construct your dataset. The worst thing to do is to store your data in a binary format. Also, pick your storage media carefully. Those who stored data on nine track tapes and decks of cards can no longer read them. We recommend ISO-standard compact disks for archival storage.


Q.  I have a file in which numeric variables are stored as strings.  How can I get Stat/Transfer to convert these variables to numbers in my output file?


A.  Stat/Transfer will let you change strings to numbers when reading worksheets and ASCII files, but it will generally not let you do so when reading other file types.   You can work around this limitation by first setting the ASCII File Write option String Quote Character to 'blank'.  Then transfer your file to delimited ASCII.  When you read the ASCII file and transfer it to your final destination format, your numeric variables, which were formerly stored as strings, will be numeric.


Q.  I have a file in which I want some numbers to be transferred as strings. How can I do that?


A.  Write it to an ASCII file with a Stat/Transfer Schema. Then edit the Schema and change the variables you want to convert to a string type.  Then read the file back in.


Q.  What's the best way to get support for Stat/Transfer?


A.  If your question is of the form “How do I do X,” please look first in the manual. If that does not solve your problem, please use our online support form.   On the other hand, if you think you have found a bug in Stat/Transfer, please use the tools on the Log tab of the user interface. That will allow you to send us a complete description of your problem, your computing environment and the files that are necessary to reproduce the problem.