"Deeply impressed" by StatTools
by Felix Grant
Scientific Computing World
February 2004


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.

» Click here to read the review at Scientific Computing World.

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