P.Mean: Viewing SPSS and SAS output without buying SPSS and SAS  (created 2008-12-17).

For one of my consulting clients, I asked for a copy of the output that the previous statistician had used. I received two files, one with an SPV extension and another with an MHT extension. It was obvious from the context that the first was an SPSS output file and the second was a SAS output file. I have access to both SPSS and SAS packages, but not conveniently at my laptop. I wanted to look at the files quickly, so what could I do?

SPSS has a SmartReader (previously called SmartViewer) available for free download. It's a bit tricky to find. Go to www.spss.com/statistics and click on the DOWNLOADS tab.

Notice that you can navigate through the SPSS output the same way as you can with the full version of SPSS.

The SAS System viewer is available for free download, but you have to register with SAS Institute, first. Sucker that I am, I signed up for a dozen SAS newsletters in the process. As I've always said, a day without email is like a day without sunshine. It looks like this program only reads data files, not output files, but it didn't matter because I could not get it to install on my system easily. It's probably my fault, because I'm not quite used to how Windows Vista does things quite yet.

But then I tried double clicking on the MHT file and it opened in Internet Explorer.

Hallelujah! You can figure out just about anything if you click around often enough.

Both SAS and SPSS have options to produce easily viewed and manipulated output in a variety of formats, but if you are ever asked to share output with someone, why not go for something simple? Print the file in PDF format (there are a wide range of inexpensive and even free programs that can print PDF files). It is almost certain that the person on the other end will have the ability to read PDF files without a fuss. You may lose a few fancy features, but better to have a low tech solution that always works than a high tech solution that might work if the person on the other end has or can download the right software.

For what it's worth, R does not produce output with a lot of bells and whistles. You can take the time and trouble to create a fancy table with various shades of blue in the background and a mixture of white single line and black double line dividers. SPSS uses a plainer format (single black gridlines everywhere, and a white background), but I tend to be even more minimalist.

Here's what the R output looks like on the screen

and if you try to save the file, the only option is text format (graphs appear in a different window, and there are more options for these). Here's what it looks like in my text editor.

Now, I would encourage anyone to add a bit of documentation to this. A few comment lines like

# Descriptive statistics
# for complete data set
# for Oswestry scores
# at baseline
# (1=AMCT, 2=DT)

would suffice. I'm not sure that the fancy gridlines do anything.

By the way, for SAS, SPSS, R, or any other program, be sure to include the syntax that created the output if you are sending it to another statistician. Often a quick view of the syntax is all that we need.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-04-01. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: SPSS software.