Robert wrote:
> How many ruby-ists have to do statistical analysis or data cleaning
> prior to analysis?

I use Ruby quite a lot at work for data cleaning, transformation and 
also for generating SPSS syntax. For example, I used it to create a long 
set of commands for linking together waves of the longitudinal British 
Household Panel Study.

> What is the well known software out there for statistical software or
> data transformation software? 

Possibly R Commander, which is a Tk interface onto R:
http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/jfox/Misc/Rcmdr/

I haven't ever used it myself, though; it seems to have a good feature 
set but missing some things I use in SPSS eg Probit models.

> Is there currently a successful project for incredibly user-friendly
> open source statistical software, usually using a GUI, to compete with
> SAS (JMP)  or SPSS? ( R is more for research statistics, with a tough
> learning curve.).

Not that I know of. I agree re R - on numerous attempts I've never 
managed to get anywhere with it (I have 8 years programming experience 
and a postgrad in Research Methods).  It also seems much more geared to 
the needs of natural rather than social science.

There are things I don't like about SPSS too, apart from price - some 
interface aspects, and its syntax. I've written GUI software in Ruby for 
qualitative data analysis, but my inclination to create a competitor to 
SPSS on the quant side (eg a GUI round ruby's R bindings) is limited. 
It's partly a frank appreciation of the difficulty of the task, and 
partly down to the fact that SPSS is provided "free" to UK academics by 
nationwide licensing agreements with universities.

alex