Sharing SPSS Output across Versions

If you’ve ever tried sharing SPSS output with your collaborators, advisor, or statistical consultant, you have surely noticed that the output is often not compatible across different versions of SPSS.

And if you work in a company where everyone is working on the same site license, it’s not a problem.  But if you’re collaborating with colleagues at different universities on different upgrade schedules, you might run into some problems.

It’s true that most software programs aren’t back-compatible.  You can’t read documents created in newer versions in older versions of software.

But SPSS’s sharing capabilities are more, um, interesting.

The syntax and data files are back and forward-compatible across many versions, at least since v9 or so.  (I don’t have earlier versions to check).  So if you can share your data and syntax, a colleague can always rerun it.  (Another good reason to use syntax).

But not so the output.

With version 16 they changed some sort of underlying programming language stuff so that the entire output is in a different format.  There are improvements–it’s much easier, say, to copy an output table to Word without completely losing the formatting.

But the output no longer has an .spo extension–now it’s .spv. In order to read a .spo output file you must have a pre-v16 version.  And in order to read a .spv output file, you need to have a v16+ version.

So .spo pre-v16 output does seem to be forward compatible up to v15.  So I can read your v11 output in my v13, but not vice-versa.  And I can’t read your v11 .spo output in my v16.

We are just going to assume that the good people at SPSS couldn’t program it any other way.

Because we know they really do have our best interests at heart because they gave us an excellent export feature.

In the File menu of the output window is Export.  You can export your output to any number of formats.  The only two I’ve tried are rich text format (rtf) and pdf.  And every once in a while there is a little snag, but for the most part, they make file sharing MUCH easier.

So if my client has SPSS 11, an earlier version than mine, I just export the results.  It’s very easy.


Getting Started with SPSS
Karen will introduce you to how SPSS is set up, some hidden features to make it easier to use, and some practical tips.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kathrin Aubry says

    Thank you, I’ve just been loooking for ingo about this subject for a long
    time and yours is thhe best I have found out tll now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you positive concferning the source?

  2. Ursula Saqui Ph.D. says

    I noticed that sometimes the .pdf export will chop off part of the output. Anyone else have this problem?

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