Macintosh statistical software

SAS JMP 10 for the Macintosh

JMP started out many years ago as John’s Macintosh Project, bringing visual exploratory statistics to the microcomputer. The program was puzzling; it replaced the Mac desktop with a program desktop, meant to bring a new user interface to statistics, along with the kind of three-dimensional exploratory graphing most people had only dreamt of.

Today, SAS-JMP 10 has a more conventional interface, but it is still advanced and designed for exploratory research. That is not to say it will not do most of what statistical researchers do — you can have a proper pre-determined research plan, and carry it out easily with JMP. By the same token, though, you can “play with your data” easily, with numerous shortcuts to make quick changes to the output or statistics.

Mac prefs

The writers have kept it Mac-friendly, to the point of having Mac-only preferences. Performance in our initial tests was blindingly fast, with instant response times, and no hint that this program is published by a company that only makes a single Mac-compatible product. It was, to say the least, amazing.

We even wrote, “There is no point in comparing JMP with PASW 18 (SPSS) in terms of speed; they are in different classes. Think about a Dodge Viper and a Toyota Yaris automatic and you may get the picture.”

Try to open a spreadsheet with four variables and 30,000 15-digit entries, and while SPSS PASW is busily digesting the idea, JMP has already opened it and displayed descriptive statistics... in an easily copied spreadsheet. Opening a small survey with 50 variables and a couple of hundred responses provides immediate gratification; scripts and search/replace operations are practically instant, too.

The problem is, every time I try to use JMP, I end up frustrated. It has an insane amount of possibility, and speeds along, but some of the basics are just not well implemented. Try using it to make a simple pie chart; it has numerous options, hidden away often in un-obvious places, making it very difficult to do simple things like changing the size and format of the value labels. If you can, try the software out before paying for it, because there are unexpected limitations along with the prolific possibilities.

New to JMP 10

Our review of JMP 8 goes into the workings of JMP more deeply, but these are the changes for JMP 10:

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