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Date:         Fri, 18 Sep 1998 10:33:44 -0500
Reply-To:     "Tverdek, Edward" <etverdek@SPSS.COM>
Sender:       "SPSSX(r) Discussion" <SPSSX-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
From:         "Tverdek, Edward" <etverdek@SPSS.COM>
Subject:      Re: Syntax Problems? Tell SPSS

Chris sent me a note clarifying the "conversion program" he was trying to use. It's essentially PCTOWIN.SPS with an expanded Win 95-friendly file name: "SPSS PC+ syntax converter.sps." If you're lazy like me and look for "PCTOWIN.SPS" via Start->Find, you won't find it. It is indeed copied to the default directory during installation, however, and remains available even in the most current versions of SPSS. I stand corrected.

As the file name suggest, it's not going to be helpful for any and all SPSS command files you might inherit. It's likely that many data warehouses are distributing "SPSS" files in the form of ASCII data and an older, SPSSx command file to read them. As I mentioned earlier, SPSSx syntax formats differed from PC+ formats, primarily in the use of command terminators.

Thanks to Chris for drawing my attention to the current version of PCTOWIN.

Ed Tverdek SPSS Technical Support

> -----Original Message----- > From: Tverdek, Edward [] > Sent: Thursday, September 17, 1998 7:19 PM > To: SPSSX-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU > Subject: Re: Syntax Problems? Tell SPSS > > Chris, > > I think the address is best used for > suggestions for specific, constructive enhancements to SPSS > products. Showering the SPSS developers with mail whenever a > command file doesn't run doesn't seem the best way to resolve > whatever problems you might encounter. Problems executing SPSS > command files are best referred to SPSS Technical Support. If > the user and Support rep come to an impasse that seems > attributable to a genuine limitation in the software, this > would be an occasion for contacting > > The DATA LIST and FILE HANDLE commands (used, among others, in > reading ASCII data) have seen remarkably little change across > the different versions of SPSS for Windows. The only difference > I spot in an admittedly cursory comparison of Syntax Reference > Guides is the inclusion of the "delimiter" option for free-field > data as of SPSS 8.0 -- an option which allows users to specify > delimiters other than the default space or comma. Data definition > files created in earlier versions of SPSS for Windows are certainly > not going to crash for lack of this option, and many users consider > this an attractive enhancement to SPSS 8.0.x (it allows one to > accommodate missing values in a free-field file). I'm not sure > what you're getting at here. You'll want to note the specific > problem SPSS reports and bring it to the attention of SPSS Technical > Support (or describe it explicitly in this forum). > > I'm also unfamiliar with the "conversion program" you describe > as packaged with SPSS 8.0. SPSS for Windows through the 6.1.4 > version came with a command file that facilitated the conversion > of SPSS PC+ command files to the format necessary for SPSS for > Windows. This PCTOWIN.SPS file is no longer included with SPSS, > presumably because there are far fewer SPSS 8.0 users making a > direct transition from SPSS PC+ than there were SPSS 5.x and 6.x > users. Again, please be specific about the "program" you are > referring to. > > In general, SPSS syntax commands change as the procedures they > invoke are enhanced. In some cases, this involves the removal > of subcommands that are no longer applicable (e.g. the CWIDTH > subcommand in TABLES), and later versions of SPSS will indeed > complain if you invoke them. In most cases, the changes involve > adding features that make the procedure more comprehensive and > useful than it was before. You won't find many instance where the > latter situation would render command files created for earlier > versions of SPSS unusable (though there may be a few commands > that wouldn't run in the same way). SPSS for Windows has seen > few if any changes to command syntax for the sake of format alone. > It remains, moreover, quite similar to the syntax formats used in > mainframe versions and differs from PC+ syntax formats primarily > in the need for command terminators (i.e. periods -- even this > requirement can be bypassed with INCLUDE files and in the > Production Facility). > > Again, please be explicit on the problems you are encountering. > > Regards, > > Ed Tverdek > SPSS Technical Support > > > -----Original Message----- > > From: Chris Gianos [] > > Sent: Thursday, September 17, 1998 9:14 AM > > To: SPSSX-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU > > Subject: Syntax Problems? Tell SPSS > > > > I have used SPSS for quite some time and have always run into problems > > when using an old Syntax file in SPSS, this problem gets worse with > > each 'improved' release. > > > > In version 8 things seem to have gotten very bad. Of course, SPSS > > will not read old syntax files, that's not new. I have also noticed a > > tendencay for SPSS to hang or crash when running a new syntax file as > > well, the file might run fine one time but then not work the next > > several attempts. I have talked to a few others who have noticed the > > same thing. > > > > I contacted SPSS at and mentioned the fact that I > > found it very frustrating that opening an ASCII file with old SPSS > > sytnax (a good deal of new data from the goverment still comes with > > old syntax) is impossible without serious modifications. It should > > take me a matter of minutes to open a file instead, it can take weeks > > to get it ready. > > > > The conversion program included with SPSS 8 does not work so you > > really get stuck if you have a data set defined with old syntax. SPSS > > said they know about this but don't get many complaints so they have > > not done anything. > > > > If this is a problem for you please let them know about it. Maybe we > > can get them to start making backwords compatible software, could you > > imagine what would happen if MS Word 97 would not work with earlier > > versions. > > > > Contact them at: > > > > Chris Gianos

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