Nov 2, 2009

Stats App Revisited

A while back I mentioned that I was working on an addon for OpenOffice called ooregress, which adds some more advanced statistics functionality to OpenOffice Calc.

Unfortunately when I wrote it, it was for OpenOffice 2.4. I think they changed the API for OpenOffice 3.0, so my code no longer works.

Rather than try to repair my code, I decided to port the thing to Javascript so that I could release it as an easily accessible website. The issue with the original version was that it was written in JRuby so you would need JRuby actually installed to run it, and it needed the development files for OpenOffice installed on the machine (not to mention OpenOffice).

This one is in a website, so all you need installed is a supported web browser. Since this is a personal project, IE is not a supported web browser :P I am currently supporting Firefox, Chrome and Safari - I can probably support Opera too, I'd just have to install it.

A temporary link is here, although I won't guarantee that this will always be active. I've got it hosted on my SheevaPlug, which I turn off sometimes. UPDATE: The site is now, and I've called it StatSan for STATiStical ANalysis.

I'm planning on putting all the code as open source (GPL) so that anybody can host their own version of it should you want to, I'll put up the link once I get something set up - I've got a local git repo of it, it's just a matter of creating something on GitHub and pushing everything over.

Anyway, why am I writing this? Well, a few reasons. First, my stats classes at school have required various stats software, including Excel, EViews and Stata. I've also tried R. For the most part, these programs fall into one or more of the following categories: tedious, hard to use, expensive, not cross-platform. I want to make something that is more streamlined, easy to use, free, accessible and portable. You don't get much more accessible and portable than JavaScript, since the vast majority of people have something installed that supports it to some degree or another (however I guess this isn't 100% portable since I'm not supporting IE).
There is one downside: JavaScript is slow. I'm sure if you were running a regression on 20 variables with hundreds of thousands of observations, it would make your computer cry. This is an issue that I've been thinking about a bit and will hopefully come up with some solution for (if that native code plugin that Google is talking about ever comes out, that would be awesome!).

So if you have to do stats calculations, feel free to check out this app and let me know what you think. If you find any bugs or come up with any features you'd like, feel free to let me know.

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