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SPSS with Python II – Installing and Testing

SPSS Python Essentials Installation

We think SPSS with Python is great! However, you need to have the SPSS Python Essentials properly installed in order to use it. This tutorial gives a quick overview of installing and then testing them for different SPSS versions.

SPSS Python Essentials

The basic components you need for running Python in SPSS are

Starting from SPSS version 18, Python, SPSS Python plugin and some extra modules are available as a single installer file known as the SPSS Python essentials. The table below gives a quick overview of how to get them and install them.

SPSS VersionBasic InstallationSPSS Python Essentials
21 or higherSelect SPSS Python Essentials during SPSS installation.Only on SPSS installation medium
18-20Install SPSS. Then install SPSS Python Essentials.IBM SPSS website
17Install SPSS, Python and then the SPSS Python plugin.SPSS 17 Python Essentials
16Install SPSS, Python and then the SPSS Python plugin.Not available
15Install SPSS, Python and then the SPSS Python plugin.SPSS 15 Python Essentials
14Install SPSS, Python and then the SPSS Python plugin.Not available
13 or lowerNot availableNot available

SPSS Versions 21 and Higher

For SPSS versions 21 and higher, you need to select the SPSS Python Essentials during the installation process of SPSS. If you didn't do so, you'll have to reinstall SPSS with the Python Essentials from scratch. The SPSS Python Essentials for these SPSS versions are not available separately and can't be added to SPSS if it's already been installed.

SPSS Versions 18 Through 20

For these SPSS versions, you first just install SPSS. Tip: Google to see if there's any fixpacks for your version before proceeding: the precise version of the Python Essentials depends on which fixpack(s) you installed for SPSS.
Next, download the SPSS Python Essentials from the IBM SPSS website and install them.

SPSS Versions 14 Through 17

For SPSS 14 through 17, you first just install SPSS. Tip: Google to see if there's any fixpacks for your version before proceeding: the precise version of the Python Essentials depends on which fixpack(s) you installed for SPSS.
Second, install Python. It's important you install the exact right version (usually 2.5, 2.6 or 2.7). Third, install the SPSS Python plugin. Unfortunately, we couldn't find versions 14 and 16 anywhere online.

SPSS Versions 13 and below

Since Python for SPSS was introduced in version 14, you can't use Python with SPSS versions 13 and lower.

SPSS Python Essentials - Testing

A simple way to test if the Python Essentials have been succesfully installed is to run some syntax that uses Python. The syntax below provides for a quick test.

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*1. Create mini test data.

data list free/v1 to v5.
begin data
end data.

*2. Try and retrieve variable names from test data.

begin program.
import spssaux
print spssaux.GetVariableNamesList()
end program.

If the Python Essentials are running properly, you should see a Python list holding the variable names in your SPSS output window that looks like [u'v1', u'v2', u'v3', u'v4', u'v5'] (The ‘u’ here is for Unicode.) If the SPSS Python Essentials are not running properly, you'll get the error message in your output window shown below.

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>Error # 6887. Command name: begin program
>External program failed during initialization.
>Execution of this command stops.
Please make sure that Essentials for Python has been successfully installed.

SPSS Python Essentials - File Locations

If something is not working, you may navigate to Edit SPSS Menu Arrow Options SPSS Menu Arrow File Locations for further inspection. If the Python Essentials have been installed, the File Locations tab should look like the screenshot below.

SPSS Python Essentials under File Locations

If you did not properly install the SPSS Python Essentials, the file locations for them will be greyed out as shown below.

SPSS Python Essentials not Installed

For recent SPSS versions, you'll need to completely reinstall SPSS with the Python Essentials to fix the problem. That may take some effort but it'll be well worth it.

Thank you for reading!

Previous tutorial: SPSS with Python I – What is It?

Next tutorial: SPSS with Python III – How Does It Work?

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