Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Data conversion and open-source software

Recently I was trying to open a data file that was created in the statistical software SPSS. SPSS is widely used in the social sciences (a competitor to SAS), and appears to have some ground here in Bhutan. Being in Bhutan with slow and erratic internet connection though, I've failed once and again to use the software through our school's portal. Finding the local SPSS representative seemed a bit surreal, and so I went off trying to solve the problem in another way.

First stop: Googling "convert .sav to .csv" lead me nowhere. SPSS and SAS both have an annoying "feature" of keeping data in file formats that are very hard to convert. A few software packages now import data from SAS databases, but I was unable to find a software package that will import from SPSS. This lead me to a surprising finding: PSPP. Yes, that's right: PSPP, previously known as FIASCO, is an open-source "free replacement for the proprietary program, SPSS." The latest version even boasts a graphic user interface. Another interesting feature is described as "Fast statistical procedures, even on very large data sets."

My problem hasn't been solved as yet, because downloading PSPP and the required Cygwin software poses a challenge with my narrow bandwidth... Thus, I cannot report about the usefulness of PSPP. I'd be interested in hearing from others who have tested/used it!
Post a Comment