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For new and occasional Analyse-it users, datasets can sometimes seem confusing. Today we’ll explain why we devised the 'dataset' concept, a concept now copied by some other Excel add-ins.
We introduced the dataset concept so Analyse-it could automatically pick-up the data and variables from your Excel worksheet. As we found with Astute, the Analysis Toolpak, and other Excel add-ins, forcing you to select cells containing the data to be analysed can be problematic:
Statistics software is supposed to simplify what’s already a complex and error-prone subject area. Forcing you to select ranges of cells just seemed, to us, to introduce more potential for errors.
In Analyse-it we tried to solve all these problems. We wanted the software to do more of the work, eliminating the need to select or re-organise your data. You should be able to:
These requirements mean Analyse-it has to know exactly how your data is arranged on an Excel worksheet -- which cells contain data for analysis, and which cells contains the variable names.
This is when the real problem with spreadsheets (or benefit, if you like) becomes apparent. Spreadsheets enforce no structure to the data you place in the cells. You can use cells on a worksheet how you like, arranging data anywhere on the sheet, horizontally or vertically, with or without labels for each row/column.
To keep things simple, we chose to support a few layouts commonly used to organise data in Excel. We call these “datasets” and all are immediately recognisable. Over time we've found most users tend to naturally organise their data in the way Analyse-it expects it – experienced Excel users more so. For more information datasets, and how to arrange your data for Analyse-it, see the online help.
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