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Research and Statistical Support - University of North Texas

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Link to the last RSS article here: Basics of Cluster Analysis. -- Ed.

SPSS 12.0*

By Mike Clark, Research and Statistical Support Services Consultant

As was reported last month, for better or worse, SPSS 12 has arrived. This new version however doesn’t do much that wasn’t already done before in some shape or form. The most noticeable change for the regular user will come in graphics that, while improved quite a bit, still can’t touch the capabilities of R with a 10-mile pole. The visual banner mentioned below can be read as “Recode option 2”. Oh, and the longer variable names makes it a little more handy as well. Anyway here is some of the press release regarding SPSS 12:

New Presentation Graphics

SPSS 12.0 includes enhanced reporting capabilities based on a new graphics system that enables users to produce presentation-quality graphs. The new system features enhanced production graphics, expanded control over chart appearance at the time of creation and editing, and customizable chart templates.  

Improved Data and Output Management

SPSS 12.0 boasts several new features that enable greater custom control for data and output management:

Visual Bander is a data manipulation tool that allows users to intelligently create bands for numeric data (e.g., breaking ages into demographic groups).

Longer variable names enables users to import and describe data files that have extended names.

Identify Duplicate Cases helps users to cleanse data by identifying and filtering duplicate records.

The Output Management System (OMS) enables end-users and application developers to create SPSS output from either SPSS data files, XML, HTML, or text files, enabling users to develop customer programs and applications.

Additionally, SPSS 12.0 includes a read-only option, which provides users with the choice to make datasets "read-only," preserving original data and preventing future alterations. It also includes a data file comments function, which enables users to add notations within individual data files.

Some of the other new ‘features’ for 12.0 are stuff you would have to pay more for.  More unfortunate however is the fact that SPSS 12 was immediately patched to fix problems such as SPSS vanishing into thin air and using such basic and necessary functions like ‘Save’ and ‘Save as’.  The fixes:


Overall Performance was improved.

Working with Excel:

A problem exporting date/time variables to Excel was repaired.

A problem in which data from Excel were converted from long numerals to scientific format was repaired.

A problem exporting Tables data to Excel was fixed.

A problem in which dates exported to Excel were off by one day in certain situations was fixed.

An issue in which exporting data files to Excel with no variable names and no data results in an assertion failure was resolved.

An issue whereby saving an empty SPSS data file as an Excel 97+ file caused C++ Assertion Failure was resolved.

Working with data files and databases:

A problem with the SAVE and SAVE AS commands led to lost cases in the system file was fixed.

A problem with setting the data file to read-only in which the permission command did not work was repaired.

A bug in which long tables names led SPSS to read field names via ODBC out of order was repaired.

An issue in which the native Oracle ODBC driver did not work in SPSS 12.0 was resolved.

Working with pivot tables:

A bug in which SPSS vanishes when pivot table column was widened was fixed.

Working with new graphics:

A bug in graphics in which text was not rotated correctly for Windows Metafiles was fixed.

A copy object/paste into Word problem was fixed.

A bug in which copying a graph and pasting it Word led to a chart with no data elements on Windows 98 and Windows ME systems was fixed.

A problem publishing charts to SmartViewer Web Server was fixed.

A problem in which exporting an output file with charts led to a sharing violation was fixed.

In graphics, a problem in which point binning caused marker fill to become black was repaired.

For clustered bar charts the default width was fixed.

An issue in which the Number format tab in the chart editor did not accept decimal places in the scale factor edit field was resolved. 

Working with SPSS procedures:

A problem in which the processor terminated while using TwoStep Cluster was fixed.

A problem in which SPSS Complex Samples was not running due to invalid plan file was fixed.

A bug whereby the Output Management System selected an incorrect set of objects was fixed.

For SPSS Server the following changes were made:

For SPSS Batch Facility, an issue in which warnings were suppressed from output by default was resolved.

For SPSS Batch Facility, an issue in titles were generated by default was resolved.

A problem in which and error message was caused by SPSS Server with the default server set to an SSL server was fixed.

In any case, despite its own best efforts SPSS is still pretty good at doing most things that a lot of folks in the social sciences want to do. Whether it will continue to be one of the leaders in this area remains to be seen.  If are a faculty or full-time staff member and you feel like you want to harness the awesome power of 12.0, you can pick up a copy from our office (call 565-4066 or 565-2140 to arrange an appointment). 

* See also "SPSS 12 Patches, Licenses, and Updates Now Available" in this issue.