Resultssets, resultsspreadsheets, and resultsplots in Stata
Most Stata users make their living producing results in a form accessible to end users. Most of these end users cannot immediately understand Stata logs. However, they can understand tables (in paper, PDF, HTML, spreadsheet, or word processor documents) and plots (produced by using Stata or non-Stata software). Tables are produced by Stata as resultsspreadsheets, and plots are produced by Stata as resultsplots. Sometimes (but not always), resultsspreadsheets, and resultsplots are produced using resultssets. Resultssets, resultsspreadsheets and resultsplots are all produced, directly or indirectly, as output by Stata commands. A resultsset is a Stata dataset, which is a table whose rows are Stata observations and whose columns are Stata variables. A resultsspreadsheet is a table in generic text format, conforming to a TeX or HTML convention, or to another convention with a column separator string and possibly left and right row delimiter strings. A resultsplot is a plot produced as output, using a resultsset or a resultsspreadsheet as input. Resultsset-producing programs include statsby, parmby, parmest, collapse, contract, xcollapse, and xcontract. Resultsspreadsheet-producing programs include outsheet, listtex, estout, and estimates table. Resultsplot-producing programs include eclplot and mileplot. There are two main approaches (or dogmas) for generating resultsspreadsheets and resultsplots. The resultsset-centered dogma is followed by parmest and parmby users and states: “Datasets make resultssets, which make resultsplots and resultsspreadsheets”. The resultsspreadsheet-centered dogma is followed by estout and estimates table users and states: “Datasets make resultsspreadsheets, which make resultssets, which make resultsplots”. The two dogmas are complementary, and each dogma has its advantages and disadvantages. The resultsspreadsheet dogma is much easier for the casual user to learn to apply in a hurry and is therefore probably preferred by most users most of the time. The resultsset dogma is more difficult for most users to learn but is more convenient for users who wish to program everything in do-files, with little or no manual cutting and pasting.
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