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vignette.do 2.0.1 Jun 2, 2019
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README.md

GITHUB : a module for building, searching, installing, and managing Stata packages from GitHub

github is a Stata module for searching and installing Stata packages from GitHub, including previous releases of a package. It is a combination of several Stata commands such as search, findit, and ssc, but instead, made for managing Stata packages hosted on GitHub. In addition, the package provides new features for version control which are not available to Stata users elsewhere (for example, the package allows installing older releases of a Stata package to reproduce an analysis carried out with older software).


NEWS: Introducing gitget command. gitget further simplifies installing and updating a package. it provides a database for all existing Stata packages on GitHub, which allows you to install a package that is hosted on GitHub - and is known by gitget, simply by typing:

gitget packagename

The gitget command relies on a complete list of Stata packages on GitHub to identify the URL of a project. This list is created programmatically using a search program that detects Stata packages. First, all of the Stata repositories are identified and stored in repolist.dta. Next, the installable packages are extracted and stored in gitget.dta which also is installed with the package on your machine. The complete list of the archive is also available for preview within this repository



Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation
  3. Syntax
  4. Subcommands
    1. Installing a package
    2. Searching for a Stata package
    3. Managing installed packages
    4. Checking a Stata repository
    5. Uninstalling a package
    6. Package Versions
      1. Installing a particular version
      2. Listing all previous releases
      3. Getting the version of an installed package
    7. Package dependencies
    8. Searching for a file in Stata packages
  5. Building package installation files automatically
  6. List of Stata Packages Recognized by gitget command

1. Introduction

In the recent years, Stata users have been increasingly using GitHub for sharing Stata code and datasets, developing statistical software, and hosting Stata packages, as shown in the figure below. This is indeed a good news for the Stata community and anyone promoting research transparency! The github module, facilitates searching, installing, managing, and even building Stata packages. Furthermore, it allows installing development version or alternatively, stable releases of a package. It also allows specifying package dependencies that will be installed automatically, making GitHub even more appealing for Stata users and developers. Here, I quickly show you how to install and use the github package.


2. Installing github module

You can install the latest version of the github command by executing the following code:

net install github, from("https://haghish.github.io/github/")

3. Syntax

The general syntax of the package can be summarized as:

github [subcommand] [...]

Where the [subcommand] can be:

Subcommand Description
search finds a Stata package on GitHub
findfile searches for a filee among all Stata packages on GitHub
install installs a package from GitHub
list provides information about packages installed with github
query lists all previous releases of a packag
check tests whether a repository is installable
uninstall removes a package from Stata
update updates a package from GitHub
version returns the version of an installed package

and the [...] can be whether username/repository or packagename based on the specified subcommand.

4. Subcommands

4.1 Installing a package

To install a package, all you need is the GitHub username and the name of the repository. The combination of username and repository name - seperated by a slash - provides the needed URL to the repository. For example, to install MarkDoc package, which is hosted on https://github.com/haghish/markdoc, it is enough to type:

github install haghish/markdoc [, stable version("")]

The github package includes a database for the complete list of Stata packages hosted on GitHub. Therefore, you can also install a package just by specifying the package name. The gitget command - which is a wrapper for github install - can install or update Stata packages from GitHub only by asking the package name:

gitget packagename [, stable version("")]

For example, if you wish to install markdoc package, typing gitget markdoc would be as goo as typing github install haghish/markdoc. If you wish to inspect the list of Stata packages hosted on GitHub, see the gitget.dta data set.

Options Description
stable installs the latest stable release version of the package
version(str) installs the specified release version

4.2 Searching for a Stata package

You can search GitHub for Stata package using a keyword or many keywords. This is similar to Stata's search or findit commands, but instead, only used for searching GitHub packages:

github search weaver

Searching GitHub API effectively is very important. For this, the package includes a search GUI that shows the syntax you can use to narrow down your search or expand it to include other sources. The search command also analyzes the release dates for packages hosted on the net command, which is a very useful feature. To launch the GUI, type:

db github

For example, if you use the github search command to search for markdoc package, you get the following output:

4.3 Managing installed packages

github has a built-in database that keeps track of the packages installed on your machine, and of course, also tells you the versions of the packages installed on the machine. The version is taken from the unique release tags of the package, specified by the developer. You can list the installed packages and get helpful information about them. This command also notifies you if there is an available update for any of your GitHub packages. For example, in the output below, we know that there are updates available for two of our packages. we can also click on the (update) link to update the package to the latest release.

. github list

4.4 Checking a Stata repository

Not all packages are installable. Stata repositories must have toc and pkg files in order to be installable. You can check whether a package is installable or not using the check subcommand.

github check haghish/markdoc

This is rather important point to pay attention to because the github search command that is used for searching Stata packages on GitHub, tends to dismiss Stata repositories that are not installable. In other words, if your repository does not include these files, it will not be considered a Stata package, unless you specify the option all in your search (in the search GUI check the show GitHub repositories that are not installable option). However, the github package also includes a GUI for building these files. Using the GUI that comes with github, you can easily build these files for your repository (see below).

4.5 Uninstalling a package

To install a package, use the uninstall subcommand, followed by the package name. For example:

github uninstall markdoc

4.6 Package versions

4.6.1 Installing a particular version

GitHub allows archiving unlimited number of package versions. The github command has an option for specifying the package version, allowing installing previous package versions. For example, for installing an older version of MarkDoc package, say 3.8.0. you can type:

github install haghish/markdoc , version("3.8.0")

4.6.2 Listing all previous releases

But were can you see the package versions? GitHub has a release tab that lists all of the previous releases of the software (See for example the previous releases of MarkDoc). But the good news is that github has a subcommand for listing all of the previous releases in Stata results windows and allows you to install any of them (as well as their package dependencies for that particular version, if specified) with a single mouse click or programmatically. To do so, type:

github query username/repository

For example, to list MarkDoc's previous releases, type:

. github query haghish/markdoc

 ----------------------------------------
  Version      Release Date      Install
 ----------------------------------------
  3.8.5        2016-10-16        Install
  3.8.4        2016-10-13        Install
  3.8.3        2016-10-03        Install
  3.8.2        2016-10-01        Install
  3.8.1        2016-09-29        Install
  3.8.0        2016-09-24        Install
  3.7.9        2016-09-20        Install
  3.7.8        2016-09-19        Install
  3.7.7        2016-09-18        Install
  3.7.6        2016-09-13        Install
  3.7.5        2016-09-08        Install
  3.7.4        2016-09-07        Install
  3.7.3        2016-09-06        Install
  3.7.2        2016-09-05        Install
  3.7.0        2016-08-23        Install
  3.6.9        2016-08-16        Install
  3.6.7        2016-02-27        Install
 ----------------------------------------

4.6.3 Getting the version of an installed package

When writing an analysis with a dynamic documentation software, such as MarkDoc, you should report the version of the packages that use are using in your analysis. You can obtain the version of an installed package programmatically using the version subcommand, followed by the :

. github version markdoc
3.8.0

This command does not have any other uses because the github list command already shows the version of the installed packages and also checks whether there is a newer version of them available...

4.7 Package dependencies

Some packages rely on other packages. The github command allows you to install the package dependencies with or without a specific version. To do so:

  1. create a file named dependency.do and include it in the repository
  2. this file is not meant to be installed in the PLUS directory therefore it should not be mentioned in the pkg file, when you are building the package (see below)
  3. include the code for installing the package dependencies in this do file. If the packages are hosted on GitHub, use the github command for installing the package dependencies and even specify the requiered version.
  4. github command looks for dependency.do after installing the package and if it finds it in the repository, it executes it.

For example, MarkDoc package has a dependency.do file that can serve as an example how the dependency file should be created. Naturally, the dependenc.do file is only executable by github install command.

4.8 Searching for a package file

The github package includes a database of all files that are installed within packages hosted on GitHub. This is an important feature for the developers to avoid creating a file with a name used by another developer because such packages cannot be installed together on the same system (the problem also exists for program name). The github package allows developers to check whether a particular name has been used in a package before.

The findfile subcommand searches the githubfiles.dta (installed with the package) and if found, it points out the repository that includes the file. For example, searching for files that have the keyword "dy" will result in:

. github findfile dy

 ---------------------------------
  Searching githubfiles database
 ---------------------------------
  dynpandoc.ado
  dynpandoc.sthlp
  dynamicPage1.mata
 ---------------------------------

These files also include the link to their repositories, if you click on them on the results window.

5. Building package installation files automatically

Imagine you have created an ado-file and Stata help files. How do you make your repository installable? You need to create a stata.toc aand a packagename.pkg files manually, specify the required information, files that should be installed, etc. The github package introduces the make GUI that generates the package installations for you, using a strict layout. You can just select the files that you wish to install, specify the required information, and have your toc and pkg files ready. Then, as soon as you copy these files to your repository, it would be installable!

Change the working directory to the repository path and then run the GUI, typing:

db make

write down the required information and select the files that should be installed. Press OK, and enjoy!

6. List of Stata Packages Recognized by gitget command

The gitget data set is downloaded along with github package. This data set is updated monthly. Click here to see the complete list of gitget packages.

Author

E. F. Haghish
Center for Medical Biometry and Medical Informatics
University of Freiburg, Germany
@Haghish

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