Differences between DataFerrett and SPSS or SAS
DataFerret is an opensource "point and click" interface meant to facilitate quick descriptive analysis. Data transformations, complex tabulation, charting and simple GIS is supported. Regression and other modeling is being added. DataFerrett handles massive datasets easily.
It uses metadata to simplify the data processing associated with analysis. Data transformations and recodes can be created not as programs, but as virtual variables that can be stored and used again. Analytical programs are stored as objects that can be saved and reused and plugged together with other analytical objects created by other analysts, or from previous work to save time and to facilate cross learning.
DataFerrett automatically merges files for you. DataFerrett uses metadata to know how to properly merge files. Simply click on the variables to select them and DataFerrett will merge them for you.
Filtering records to restrict a universe
In SAS you use a Data Step and an "If variable X = Y;" to keep variables for analysis. In DataFerrett you simply click on the values of the variables that you want to include. Records that don't meet this test will not be included in your analysis. Note: that if you want to restrict an analysis to a certain population, say for instance women, you would include sex = female (click on the sex variable, then check only female) to have an analysis only on women. In this case you won't include the variable sex in the table. It will only be used to restrict the universe.
Creating new variables
In SAS or SPSS, you will create a variable in a Data Step or script with statement like "If (variable X =Y) then variable Z = variable X + 22 etc.
DataFerrett actually supports data manipulation in 3 ways.
Creating/saving a variable as a simple recode. This collapses the values from a single variable to more useful classes.
Creating a new variable from several variables using "if then else" logic.
Creating new aggregate variables by using the spreadsheet(spreadsheet math) to manipulate rows and columns.
Variables and scripted transformations are saved in two ways:
Saving the data basket in a Ferrett Session File (FSF)
Saving the layout of a table in a Ferrett Tabulation File (FTF) note: this also saves the FSF associated with the table.
You can save the definition of a table in a Ferrett Tabulation File (FTF). Graphs, tables and maps can be cut and paste into other documents as well.