Note: this review concerns an older version (0.92) — JASP is now up to 0.10.2 and has added numerous analyses.
JASP was created as “a low fat alternative to SPSS, a delicious alternative to R,” and comes out of the University of Amsterdam (presumably at lower cost than buying SPSS).
JASP is not yet at version 1 and may be used with caution; it also requires the free XQuartz window environment. Though it’s not a native Mac program, it does use the native open/save dialogue box, surprisingly; and it’s easy to install, unlike, say, PSPP.
The software looks and feels like SPSS; though it isn’t native Mac software, it feels more native than some of SPSS’ past versions. Calculations and screen drawing are far, far, far faster than in “real SPSS” — when you select the tests, they might actually be pumped out before your finger is fully off the mouse.
We loaded our big test file instantly — and ran descriptives instantly. When it could not finish one process in a reasonable time, we ran others, indicating it’s well multi-threaded. The survey file also loaded in a fraction of a second; frequencies for all 40 five-point variables came in the blink of an eye.
Survey researchers will be happy to know they can assign value labels — and unhappy to know they must be done variable by variable, without syntax. The labels are retroactively applied to whatever is in the output window, very rapidly.
There is a copy function for either individual charts or whole analyses, but when we tried, it didn’t work — until I tried pasting into Pages and Word (it looks much better in Pages). Copying worked just fine for graphics, and there’s also an easy graphics export.
What’s missing in JASP? There are still many procedures to be written, but the biggest user-interface gaps from “actual SPSS” are in the lack of syntax or macros, and the lack of customizability for charts. There do not seem to be plans for syntax. There's also no way to change data in the spreadsheet view, but this may not be a big problem; and, while you can use long variable names (with spaces), you can't do variable labels.
Thanks to Prof. Kim-Oliver Tietze for pointing us to JASP.
The developers do not pay Apple $99 per year for an account, so they are not “signed” by Apple. You can’t open this software by double-clicking; instead, right-click (on one-button mice, hold down the control button while clicking), and select Open from the contextual menu. You will get the scary dialogue box; fill it out if you want to run the software. The system should remember your choice and should not ask you again unless you update the software, and you can double-click to run from here on.
If you don’t even get that far, go to your System Preferences, click on Security & Privacy (first row, looks like a house), go to the General tab, unlock the preference (click on the lock, bottom left), and then select “Allow apps downloaded from App Store and identified developers.” This, again, only has to be done once.