Re: [R] read.spss (package foreign) and SPSS 15.0 files

From: Thomas Lumley <tlumley_at_u.washington.edu>
Date: Fri 06 Apr 2007 - 16:03:10 GMT

On Thu, 5 Apr 2007, John Kane wrote:
> Heck. I'd be happy to get an answer to what is
> happening here:
>> mac <- spss.get("H:/ONTH/Raw.data/Follow.sav")
> Warning message:
> H:/ONTH/Raw.data/Follow.sav: Unrecognized record type
> 7, subtype 16 encountered in system file
>

It means that your file had a record of type 7, subtype 16 in it, and read.spss doesn't know how to handle these.

You would have to ask SPSS what record type 7 and subtype 16 represent -- their software put them there, and it's their terminology.

People's experience with unrecognised record types is that they usually don't matter, which would make sense from a backwards-compatibility point of view, but in the absence of documentation or psychic powers it is hard to be sure. Avoiding read.spss is a perfectly reasonable strategy, and is in fact what we have always recommended in the Data Import-Export manual.

AFAIK the only commercial statistical software vendor that does provide complete, public documentation of their file formats is Stata, and this is one reason why there are fewer complaints about read.dta and write.dta. It also probably helps that the code was written by someone who uses Stata -- there hasn't been much contribution of code or patches for the foreign package from SPSS users.

         -thomas



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