PinPoint 3


NETWORK: Newsletter of the Society for Psychotherapy Research U.K. Volume 6(1):3 March 1995. ISSN 1359-3706

Mounted by Chris Evans in July 1995, as part of NETWORK 6(1) {3kb} mounted as individual file to help people with slow connections 8.ii.96. Pointer to Logotron WWW site added 21.iii.96

PinPoint 3 for Windows. Longman Logotron, 124 Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 4ZS (01223 425558)

PinPoint is described by its manufacturers as: "Forms design and publishing, data collection, analysis and presentation. The single solution giving you the competitive edge." They have gone from version 1.1 to version 3 (I think) and the list price of version 3 is £499 ex VAT for a single copy, a licence for three users would cost £1200 then £200 per user thereafter. Greater discounts are apparently negotiable for large numbers e.g. for F.H.S.A.s, D.H.A.s, trusts etc. Version 1.1 is still available for £299 and an educational discount is available on v1.1 making it £129 and may be available for v3 at £299. The program allows the creation of data entry forms which can be used for computerised data entry or can be printed on paper. Questions can take the following forms:

There were some oddities about formatting but I didn't find it hard to produce a reasonable questionnaire for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales. There were aspects of the editor which seemed crude compared to wordprocessors I use routinely. One major limitation was the inability to save the form in any general WP format such as RTF, another was that there was no way to import the basic text to make up a questionnaire. One thing I did was PinPoint's ability to export the form as a Windows executable which can be used to collect up to 20 sets of answers. The data collected can be easily imported back into PinPoint. This is surely one of the ways forward for forms handling. The other is probably optical character recognition and PinPoint has options to print questions in ways suited to OCR marking systems (it says).

PinPoint has quite extensive and fairly friendly options for cross-tabulation and graphing of data and can perform a reasonable range of calculations on stored data including IF-THEN-ELSE constructions. It is particularly strong on date calculations which are weak in many stats. and database packages. It can import data in comma and tab delimited formats (CSV & TSV) from ASCII files and can also import from DBase II/III/IV and from Paradox files (I'm unclear what variants). It can only export data in CSV and TSV formats which seemed extraordinarily rigid to me. The lack of export options gave me the impression that Longman Logotron have little faith in their own product: they're limiting its import and export for forms and limiting its export options for data. This means users not already wedded to word processors or forms packages for their forms, or to stats/graphics packages for analyses, will easily become locked in with the product.

Although seducing users into a lasting embrace has advantages, it also has problems. I use a number of stats. and graphics packages and the Microsoft Office group of products so I already have ways of doing some of things that PinPoint does. However, I'm also dissatisfied with these established ways and looking for a better way of handling q'aire production, data collection, entry and validation, and data analysis. PinPoint is strong on these processes and links them in one continuous and logical sequence. Furthermore its designers prioritised user friendliness but I often found they had hit on ways of doing things, and on priorities about what to implement, that didn't feel friendly or intuitive at all to me. I'd need months to get proficient using it (which is not unreasonable for a product covering so many needs) but felt reluctant to spend that time while it was difficult to get information out in the formats I wanted (RTF for the raw forms and at least DBF for the data). I can see strong arguments for services unconcerned about sophisticated statistical analyses, and needing to harmonise forms handling and data collection, to standardise on PinPoint. For me it's too statistically limited and too rigid.

I would be interested to hear of users who have used it more. Longman Logotron claim 55,000 users and put particular emphasis on health services. I'd also be interested to hear from users who may have covered the PinPoint functions using a combination of a dedicated forms package and a graphics/database package (or packages). For me the search for the chimerical perfect single psychotherapy research package continues!

Chris Evans

(Added 21.iii.96): Mike Smith has pointed out to me that Longman logotron now have what looks like an impressive WWW site for PINPOINT at: