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Date:         Fri, 4 Feb 2005 07:57:31 -0800
Reply-To:     VKogler <vkogler@silcom.com>
Sender:       "SPSSX(r) Discussion" <SPSSX-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:         VKogler <vkogler@silcom.com>
Subject:      SPSS Journal
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

With the recent discussion about the SPSS journal, I thought I'd pass alone some journal management practices I've gotten from this list over the years and one I haven't seen before. I didn't notice these on Raynald's site, so hopefully they are not absent by virtue of being common knowledge.

First, in the SPSS Options menu, be sure the recording of syntax in the journal is enabled and that new content is appended to the file and does not overwrite it. While you're there, if you want to, change the location of the file to somewhere easier to locate than eight layers down in the drive C directory structure. I keep mine in the directory where I keep my most frequently used syntax files. Whether you change the location or not, as noted yesterday, you can change the file extension from .jnl to .sps so that you can more easily locate and open the journal file with the Syntax Editor. One could also give it a .txt, .rtf or .doc extension depending on personal preference.

When I want to view or edit a syntax file without having to first start SPSS, I right-click on the file and since I have TextPad installed, a TextPad option appears on the context menu. I can click on that and open the file in TextPad. If you don't have TextPad, you should still be able to right click on the syntax file, select Send To and then choose Notepad. I believe that being able to send a file to Notepad is the default setup for Windows. If not, you can copy a Notepad shortcut to the Send To folder in Documents and Settings in Window XP.

Another practice I have found helpful is archiving the journal file. Since the journaling function writes the date and time each SPSS session begins, it is easy to locate the beginning and ending dates of the time period you want to either save or delete. My practice has been to save them in six month increments so that no one file gets too massive. The journal archives have names like Jan-Jun04.sps

Lastly, and something that saved much time for me the other day, is the practice of adding project-specific comments to the journal. Clearly there are many cases where I know I want to create and save a syntax file for a specific recurring purpose. There are many other times when I am not really intending to create a syntax file for the ages but am doing something interesting that might have some future utility - maybe just a one-off report using the GUI or trying out a macro from someone on this list. In this case, if I think I might want to refer to the syntax again, what I do is write and run a comment line in the Syntax Editor to serve as a flag to help locate it later. The comment will have the name of a client, project, or some sort of idiosyncratic identifier - For example: /* * * Greenfield ./ or maybe /* * * chart formats . /Then at some point when I'm working on something and remember a bit of syntax from a session 3-4 weeks or months ago, I have a chance of finding it in 90,000 line syntax file. The Ctrl+F Find function is pretty much universal, so whether you are doing this in the Syntax Editor, Notepad, Word or whatever, it should work. Since I haven't finished memorizing the Syntax Reference Guide, this little trick comes in handy every month or so.//

Another thing I do is preface comments with three asterisks [* * *] rather than one so that I can distinguish mine from the ones SPSS creates [e.g., *Custom Tables. or *>Error # 5215 in column 18.] . This helps if my flag was a bit too idiosyncratic and/or I've forgotten it, then I can just search for the 3 asterisks.

Hope someone finds this useful.

Victor Kogler


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