[R] SAS transport files and the foreign package

Frank E Harrell Jr fharrell at virginia.edu
Sat Jan 18 18:46:02 CET 2003

Thanks for your note Doug!

I had no idea how strange the XPORT format really is.  I really hope that someone will step forward to enhance and maintain read.xport and lookup.xport, as it would be of great benefit to many users.

Following Duncan Temple Lang's suggestion I am contacting one of our clients to see what they think about moving towards XML for this.  My guess is that XML will take a while to be used routinely for this and that the sometimes huge datasets involved will cause XML files to be monstrous (compression will help but will tax memory usage of R at least temporarily during processing).  

Again thanks Doug for all your and Saikat DebRoy's work on this and for all of the helpful information and interesting history, which only goes out to reinforce my belief that SAS is used so much in the pharmaceutical industry not for any technological advantages or accuracy of calculations but because of inertia and because of disdain of some statisticians for learning how to use new tools.  On the positive side I have been heartened by increased interest in S at large pharmaceutical companies I have visited recently.  Our statistical center work will profit from the University of Wisconsin Dept. of Biostatistics model and will use only S and LaTeX for statistical reporting.

Frank E Harrell Jr              Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation Sciences
U. Virginia School of Medicine  http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat

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