[R] change in read.spss, package foreign?

Heinz Tuechler tuechler at gmx.at
Fri Sep 9 14:50:10 CEST 2005

At 12:09 09.09.2005 +0200, Martin Maechler wrote:
>>>>>> "Heinz" == Heinz Tuechler <tuechler at gmx.at>
>>>>>>     on Fri, 09 Sep 2005 01:58:29 +0200 writes:
>    Heinz> Dear All,
>    Heinz> it seems to me that the function read.spss of package
>    Heinz> foreign changed its behaviour regarding factors. I
>    Heinz> noted that in version 0.8-8 variables with value
>    Heinz> labels in SPSS were transformed in factors with the
>    Heinz> labels in alphabetic order.
>    Heinz> In version 0.8-10 they seem to be ordered preserving
>    Heinz> the order corresponding to their numerical codes in
>    Heinz> SPSS.  However I could not find a description of this
>    Heinz> supposed change. Since the different behaviour seems
>    Heinz> to depend on the installed version of the
>    Heinz> foreign-package I don't know how to give a
>    Heinz> reproducible example.  It also affects spss.get of
>    Heinz> the Hmisc-package, which is not surprising.
>    Heinz> I prefer the new behaviour and would like to know, if
>    Heinz> it will persist in future versions.
>Yes, it was on purpose.
>Note that the development of "foreign" is also on
>svn.R-project.org, and you can easily get at its 'ChangeLog' :
>         https://svn.R-project.org/R-packages/trunk/foreign/ChangeLog
>where you find the relevant entry at 2005-08-15 .
>Martin Maechler
Dear Martin, 
Thank you for your answer. As I said, I appreciate this change. The
documentation does not explain precisely, how variables with labels are
treated now. It only tells "If SPSS value labels are converted to factors
the underlying numerical codes will not in general be the same as the SPSS
numerical values, since the numerical codes in R are always 1,2,3,...".
Will now the created factor levels in any case be ordered according to the
order of the original numerical codes in SPSS?

In general I wonder, how I could get to know such critical changes before I
update a package instead of finding it out by chance. Is there a place,
where a responsible R-user should look, when updating the program?
Thanks again,
Heinz Tüchler

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