by Felix Grant
Four users reasonably comfortable with routine Excel use, but not with analytical work, used my copy of StatTools to tackle live tasks related to their needs. . . .
On the first count, protective colouring, StatTools does as good a job as it is possible to imagine.
When later asked to repeat the same operations in a conventional (and to my mind friendly) statistics package, by contrast, [the users] unanimously described it as ‘hostile,’ and all were under the impression that they had used [with StatTools] previously unknown aspects of Excel itself on the first time round.
In this initial acceptance test, the software passed with flying colours. . . .
A nice touch, worth mentioning and not universal amongst add-ins, is that you can choose if and when StatTools loads.
Dataset and variable management is a particular highlight of StatTools. …the ‘Pro’ version...can, for example, handle 13 million univariate cases, which circumvents Excel’s irksome row limitation. There is a high degree of intelligent assistance available, variable names and data locations being suggested as you work…
Most commonly used statistical procedures are covered within StatTools. Because [StatTools] functions are called through cell formulae, they are ‘live’ in the same way as other Excel content – update data within a range and the associated results recalculate to reflect the change, as do graphics.
It has the big advantage that resulting [StatTools] spreadsheets can be distributed for information dissemination purposes…to any Excel user, regardless of whether or not that user has StatTools in place.
As a consultant, I work often with highly skilled people for whom data analysis is unfamiliar or built on shaky foundations; as an educator, with students for whom incidental data analysis is the terrifying barrier between them and their main goals. For both of these groups, add-ins are often a way forward. I have been deeply impressed, in this respect, by StatTools’ apparent ability to act as a ‘flight simulator’ on which to develop data skills and thought processes in an unthreatening environment, while learning the main subject: preparing the user for future graduation (should it be necessary) to purely analytical software environments.
For more information, contact:Randy Heffernan