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libpspp + Perl module somewhere down the road?

From: Jörg Beyer
Subject: libpspp + Perl module somewhere down the road?
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 16:23:29 +0200
User-agent: Microsoft-Entourage/

Hello PSPP developers.

I have one or two questions regarding the roadmap of PSPP, but first let me
introduce myself. I'm a student of psychology, and here in Germany, SPSS is
predominant in this field. Personally, I chose to live in more than one
world and added R to my toolbox (plus some Perl, and AppleScript, plus some
quite basic SQL-skills). Oh, and I'm on Mac OS X 10.4 -- but I have learned
not to fear the command line too much and prefer to compile open source
software myself, instead of using pre-build binary packages; no Fink, no
DarwinPorts either.  But don't expect too much, and please bear with me, I'm
not a trained programmer.

As I already wrote in another thread, I see PSPP as an integral part of some
kind of a larger ecosystem for data analysis.
Right now, I'm in quite a bit difficult situation. On top of my wish list is
having a libpspp and associated Perl bindings/a Perl module. I need to read
at least the dictionary of an arbitrary *.sav-file with Perl; it would also
be of value if I could read the data part. In both cases, getting either a
data structure or a text report would be great, but the former is preferred,
that would release me from writing parsers.

While similar ideas have been discussed elsewhere (e.g. in a thread back in
June), I wonder what your current plans are:

(1) Is a libpspp in the works (there seem to be some hints in the alpha
snapshot of October 3rd, but only an empty directory was installed in
/usr/local/lib on my machine)?

(2) What are your plans about releasing an associated Perl module alongside?
Or better, are there any plans at all, and if, when approximately?

Given the fact that I know near to nothing about C (or how to use XS or Swig
to bring C and Perl together), I have two alternatives:
-- If you have something in the works, I could wait a bit and hope that it
works for me. 
-- I could also sit down and try to write my own parser in pure Perl.

Alternative 2 would duplicate already existing work (your C code), and it
would lead to an obviously inferior solution in many respects. So please
take my post as a feedback and as a suggestion as well -- I'd be glad to be
able to use a libpspp from Perl, and I'm quite interested in some comments.

Thanks for all your efforts so far



Jörg Beyer 
PHILIPPS-University Marburg
Dept. of Psychology

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