Stata 12 has been announced. The three biggest additions for sociologists are probably:
1. Structural equation modeling, including (sigh) a path-diagram drawing module for folks who cannot figure out what their diagram implies in terms of a set of linear equations. Includes FIML estimation for missing data, which is the SEM counterpart to multiple imputation in terms of missing-data techniques that some folks wishfully believe have mystical powers to surmount fundamental data limitations on inference.
2. The -margins- command added in Stata 11 will be accompanied now by a graphing program, so between the two of those commands one should be able to do just about anything one wants post-estimation with predicted values. -Margins- already is a mighty command, with the caveat is that it is extremely easy to use it to generate results that are not quite what you thought you were getting.
3. A -contrast- command that allows you to easily generate the significance tests for various kinds of implied contrasts in a model, so you don’t have to re-estimate models with different dummy variable or interaction specifications in order to get all the significance tests of interest.
The analogy in my mind is that Stata is to the iPhone as R is to Android, as far as social science data analysis goes. I guess SAS would be BlackBerry, insofar as it’s dated and propped up by a strong lock-in among government employees. And SPSS is a Nokia phone that has a slick interface for dialing your friends but requires you to push dozens of extra buttons in a non-intuitive sequence if you want to call anyone new.
[Update: Gabriel beat me to posting about this. He’s also enthusiastic about the addition to contour plots and the ability to export graphs as PDF.]