Opening old Excel files in STATA 12

I ran into some importing old Excel files into STATA 12.  Since I thought others would probably be encountering the same problem, I decided to write a blog post about it.

We’re getting ready to produce a draft release of our China Multigenerational Panel Dataset – Shuangcheng (CMGPD-SC) so that users can kick the tires and report problems before we submit a final version to ICPSR for dissemination there.

As part of the preparation, we wanted to take advantage of the new facility in Stata 12 that allows Excel files to be opened directly.  Our ‘raw’ data consist of Excel spreadsheets entered by our coders, one per register.  Registers are annual or triennial.  For our Liaoning dataset, we have 737 registers coded.  For Shuangcheng, we have 338.  Previously, our procedures for automating the import of the registers in Stata were clumsy, and rarely survived upgrades to Stata or Windows.  At one point we were using the odbc command to loop through and read all the registers, but that broke when we moved to computers that were running 64 bit windows.  Then we wrote a macro to loop through the Excel files and write them to tab-delimited text fields, which STATA could read.

Converting our programs to use import excel was fairly straightforward.  Basically it just mean substituting import excel for insheet.

When we began running the programs, however, STATA was reporting that it could not load files, and came back with an r(603).  I did notice it could open all .xlsx files, but had more trouble with .xls files.  I began to wonder if the problem was with older versions of Excel files.  Perhaps the import capability assumed a recent version of Excel.  I saved some of the files as .xlsx files and sure enough, STATA could read them.

At that  point, it became necessary to convert the thousand or so files that were in older versions of Excel to .xlsx files.  Opening them one by one and saving them to .xlsx would be impractical.

I poked around on the net, and found that Microsoft had an Office File Converter tool available for download.   Here is an introduction and here is the download.  The tool requires that the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack be installed.  By modifying the ofc.ini file, and adding the name of a folder under [FoldersToConvert] it is possible to direct OFC to attempt to convert all the old .xls files it finds in a specified folder to .xlsx.

fldr=C:UsersCameronDropboxSharedSkydriveCMGPD DataLN

Here is what my [ConversionInfo] section ended up looking like:


I ran ofc and sure enough, it chugged through the files and converted them and placed them in a directory under the original folder that was called Converted.

Now Stata is happily chewing through the converted files.




Relocated my blog

I relocated my blog from Google’s Blogger to WordPress.  The transition was pretty smooth.  However, I didn’t see an easy way to have WordPress Permalinks for blog entries match the ones at Blogger.  Blogger caps URL length, thus truncates the title of the blog entry in the URL if it is too long.  Wordpress doesn’t, so the URL includes the entire title of the blog entry.  This means that links to specific posts are now broken.  If you arrived here by following a link to a specific post, you can probably find it by entering some of the words from the URL into the search box.

I relocated my blog to ensure that it was accessible in China.  In China, access to my Blogger hosted blog was erratic.  Some people could access it in its entirety, some couldn’t access it at all, and some people could access it, but the posts were broken up and missing content.  I decided to relocate it to a hosted website at GoDaddy that has its own unique and stable IP address.

At the same time, I also moved over my personal website.  Previously I had it hosted at Google Sites.  It was inaccessible, or only occasionally accessible, in China.  Now it is also at my GoDaddy hosted site.  In case anyone it is interested, I am using Joomla.  So far I like Jooma.