Tuesday, August 26, 2008

101 reasons not to upgrade to Clementine 12

Why 101 reasons?
-> because that's close to how many bugs have been added :(
Ok, I'm exaggerating…a little.

We recently 'upgraded' (and I user that term similarly to how a Windows XP user 'upgrades' to Vista) from Clementine 10.1 to version 12.0.2.

For what's new in Clementine 12 see;
http://www.spss.com/clementine/whats_new.htm

I agree the new version has some really cool features, but after using it for a few weeks now I have also found that it has obviously been released far too early in the development and testing cycle. UI design is not up to the usual high polished standard, and there are notably more bugs (granted, usually Clementine has *very few* bugs or problem areas). Clementine is still incredibly stable, the problems I have reported relate to UI design and interface problems. I've yet to find a problem or fault on the data processing side. Some of the problems are minor but have been around for 4+ years, and its frustrating that they are still not fixed. Kinda leaves customers thinking there's little point in providing product feedback at all...

Its been a few years since I left SPSS, so I'm not privy to what's going on in Development. In my view Clementine is still easily the best data mining software out there, but SPSS have clearly rushed this release out the door.

SPSS have replied to me and appear to be taking my criticism onboard. Fingers crossed that an update in the coming months will resolve the issues I have raised.

A few of the main points I raised;
- can no longer save the stream whilst data execution is occurring. Nasty loss of feature. I consider this one quite serious. Users should *always* be able to save the stream at any time.
- Partial outer joins no longer auto-tick the first table connected to a merge node if the order of the connected tables is different. This is a change in default behaviour (always dangerous), and will affect old streams opened in the new version 12 (so your join condition could be different – beware!)
- new pop-up ‘info’ windows that have no purpose and cannot be turned off. Really bad UI design, and not akin to Clementine’s usual interface.
- Charts always prompt to be deleted. Like the pop-up windows, this a new behaviour and quite annoying. There is no way to prevent “Are you sure you want to delete this chart” pop-up messages. Didn't they learn from the old version 7.0? (oldies will remember the "Are you sure you want to exit Clementine message"...)
- Quality Node has gone and there is no replacement functionality. Sure, just delete something from the software for no good reason…

Granted, I use Clementine 6 hours a day and am probably going to encounter problems other usedrs wouldn't, but some of these issues are glaringly obvious.

- Tim

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You may have already found it, but the Quality node stuff is now in the Data Audit node.

Clem said...

new pop-up ‘info’ windows that have no purpose and cannot be turned off. Really bad UI design, and not akin to Clementine’s usual interface.


I agree the new popup window is annoying but it can be switched off so not really worth worrying about...

This can be turned of using Tools>Options>User Options

untick "Show Stream Execution Feedback Feedback dialog"

I've been using Clementine since v11.1 and I'm a bit of a novice but learning fast! Even I managed to find this option so it is worth being patient. I'm not too sure your comment about the data quality node is accurate either. Is this not in the Data Audit node now?

Anonymous said...

101 reasons not to upgrade to Clementine 12. I'm new to stats but I only make it 5. Have I missed your point. I'm sure there is well in excess of 5 reasons to upgrade. I'm not sure you are presenting a balanced view here

Tim Manns said...

Thanks for your feedback!

There are quite a few minor issues I've logged. Many are silly little problems that have been in the sofware for years. Granted they aren't close to 101, but you get my point. Some of the new features are cool, but don't look well implemernted to me. The charting edit options are buggy and give the appearance of free-ware. New graphing options should be better, not different.

I only mentioned the main problems I've not been able to resolve.

Maybe I didn't explain the problems clearly. Hopefully here's a better description;

1) Pop-up windows. When you delete a histrogram (and other charts) Clementine will give you a warning "do you want to save this chart". A pop-up warning. No options will stop this warning. It happens always. If you have 20 charts you get the pop-up warning 20 times. This didn't happen in version 10.1.

2) Data Audit does not pushback as SQL. I analyse a large data warehouse with millions of rows, so if I can't have functions pushback as SQL then its often useless to me. The quality node used to pushback as SQL. Data Audit doesn't. There is a loss of functionality.


Don't get me wrong, I agree Clementine is a great piece of software, that's why I use it. My complaint is that I expected better from SPSS. Previous versions of Clementine have been of a higher standard than 12.0.2.

Cheers

Tim

Themos Kalafatis said...

Hello Tim,


Thanks for the info regarding Clementine 12. Last version of Clementine i used was 10.1 and it is good to know about new features plus problems of ver.12 . BTW, have you ever considered using open source DM packages?

Tim Manns said...

Hello Themos,

I have examined a few freeware and open source options, but to be honest few have the ease of use and data warehouse support.

90% of my work is data preparation and summarising the data into a format for model building and reports. I need a tool that can create SQL on-the-fly and keeps my productivity high. All my work is pushed back as SQL onto the data warehouse.

I've yet to see another DM tool that can do this (yes, that includes SAS). I'm disappointed that Clementine 12 has plenty of flashy new stuff but in my view fails to address long standing bugs (some trival issues) and introduces a few serious flaws. Having said that, its still by far the best tool out there.

- Tim

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim
I remember you from SPSS. I worked in chilean spss offices's.
Just today is my first day with Clementine 12, until last thursday I was an user of Clementine 11.
And my first impression was the annoying clock running without stop even if the proccess is over.
I spend the last three hours looking for a way to turn off it, without success.
¿Do you have any clue about it?
Regards from Chile,
Andrea

(Sorry for my english, but since I left SPSS four years ago, my english is not so good :)

Tim Manns said...

Hello Andrea,

I also found the parallel processing annoying and buggy. I turned it off completely, and this stops the pop-up box message and incorrect timing.

Tools -> Options -> User Options -> Optimisation

- then turn off "Enable parellel processing" option.

Also see http://www.kdkeys.net/forums/70/ShowForum.aspx for Clementine forum posts.

I've been using 12.01 now everyday for months and I haven't found any data processing faults or 'incorrect' results, so the server side of things looks great. It remains very stable. Only crashed once. The main complaints I have are with interface design and UI changes (and not fixing really old UI bugs).

- Tim