Choosing Weft QDA

Most textbooks and articles on qualitative data analysis stress the importance of choosing a software package that fitting your own particular method and methodology. Weft QDA offers a generic set of facilities for working with text documents, and doesn't make any particular assumptions about how to think about and generalise from data. At the same time, there may be a fair number of other CAQDAS packages available to you, especially if you use Microsoft Windows, and especially if you have money. So the following list summarises some situations where Weft QDA may be particularly suitable, and some where you might be advised to use an alternative software tool.

Reasons for choosing Weft

You are unable or unwilling to pay for commercial CAQDAS software

Commercial CAQDAS software is expensive, putting it beyond the reach of many students and researchers who would otherwise find it useful. Even crippled and restrictively licensed versions are sold for hefty prices. Weft QDA is available completely free of charge or restriction - who doesn't love getting Free Stuff?

Ease of use matters

Weft QDA is easy to use compared to other CAQDAS packages. This is partly because it offers doesn't squeeze in every possible extra, concentrating on a solid set of core features based around 'code and retrieve'. However it's also because it uses modern platform-standard GUI controls, actions and window handling, and strives to avoid the idiosyncracies and irritations common in commercial and free CAQDAS.

You are using qualitative data analysis software for the first time

As well as an uncluttered interface, Weft QDA comes with complete user documentation. It's particularly aimed at those who have a general familiarity with desktop software, but no prior experience of using qualitative data analysis tools.

You are teaching qualitative data analysis

Weft QDA is ideal for introducing some common CAQDAS approaches and practices to students who have not previously used this sort of software. Weft's free availability means that students can download and use the software themselves outside of classroom or computer lab sessions.

You use Linux

Weft QDA is one of very few CAQDAS applications which runs on Linux. It also runs on modest hardware.

Reasons to consider another package

You need to work with images, audio or video

Weft QDA currently only allows the analysis of text documents, whereas many other packages allow the analysis of still images, video and/or audio files.

You need to work with "rich" text

Many commercial packages allow the analysis of "rich" text, with styling like bold, italic, colour, and possibly including tables or figures. Weft QDA requires documents to be converted to "plain" text before being imported into a project.

You need specific advanced features

Some other packages include specific advanced features to support specialist types of analysis, such as concordances, fuzzy matching, visual theory modelling and so on. If you definitely need these features, you need a package that offers them - though suggestions for future additions to Weft are very welcome.

You are working with multilingual documents

Weft does not support working with documents in multiple different scripts (such as Latin, Japanese, Chinese, Cyrillic and so on) within a single project. Some other packages do support multilingual projects.

You need dedicated paid support

Weft QDA is well supported by user documentation, a user mailing list and by email. However, other packages may be supported by a dedicated helpdesk, institutional IT departments or academic networks.