Phil Hearn: Blogger, Writer & Founder of MRDC Software Ltd.

MRDCL: What’s beyond its unmatched crosstab features?

I am delighted that many in the market research arena consider MRDCL the premium product for crosstabs. I don’t think claiming we have enjoyed this position for about 20 years is overly boastful. But I’m still not happy! Why not? The problem with having a good reputation for one thing is that people often overlook other aspects of MRDCL. It’s a bit like many people think of Nestle (well, I do) for its chocolate, whereas it has its fingers in a lot of other pies, both figuratively and literally.

What else does MRDCL offer?

So, I’m going to tell you about what MRDCL offers except for crosstabs in this blog article. I think its ‘other’ features break down into three broad categories:

  • Process

Includes: Automation, Connectivity, Embedding MRDCL in another application

  • Outputs

Includes: Charts, PowerPoint generation/automation, AI

  • Tools

Includes: Variables, Specification automation (using MRDCL’s EPS tools)

Let’s unpack this and look at each category in more detail.

   1. Process

   a. Automation

Strictly, MRDCL’s automation features cut across all the categories, but I have put it here as I believe survey automation is becoming more and more critical in today’s competitive business world. The market research industry has had to reposition itself. As some projects can go from fieldwork to an interactive dashboard in one day, there is an expectation that agencies can deliver every project quickly. So, speed matters.

What can MRDCL automate?

It’s probably easiest to provide some examples of what MRDCL can automate, although I should point out that this is not an exhaustive list, and it’s worth remembering you can use these examples in combination.

  • Read data from an SPSS SAV file and produce crosstabs with a banner in less than five minutes for most projects.
  • Produce crosstabs and generate an Excel workbook with hyperlinks to each table.
  • Produce crosstabs and update figures in PowerPoint reports automatically **
  • Take data for a new wave of a tracking study and automatically update outputs.
  • Run multiple sets of tables/charts/reports – e.g. for a tracking study when you want monthly, quarterly, annual reports, etc.
  • Generate data for other systems, e.g. SPSS, APIs, Excel, Triple-S.

   b. Connectivity

Some software products allow you to connect with other products; others are not so good. As market research expands and becomes a more significant part of the business information world, connectivity becomes paramount. In most cases, software vendors that think there is no reason to leave their product are restricting their users. We strongly believe that MRDCL must have good connectivity, making it easy to get surveys into MRDCL and allowing users to transfer projects or data to other products or systems.

Examples of connectivity within MRDCL
  • MRDCL has adopted the TSAPI API standard, making it easier to connect to systems both within market research and with other business systems
  • MRDCL’s Intelligent Import facility means that you can automate your imports from other data formats, rerunning or amending them easily and quickly
  • MRDCL outputs to most market research software standards – e.g. SPSS SAV files, TSAPI, Triple-S, Excel CSV as codes or texts, Excel XLSX, ASCII, etc.

   c. Embedding MRDCL in another application

MRDCL is available as a white-label product that you can embed in an online or offline application. Embedding MRDCL in other applications is one of the fastest-growing areas of our business. There are three main ways users are benefiting from MRDCL in this way:

  • If you have an online application, you can offer customers access to any complexity of crosstabs. By calling the MRDCL application, you can easily program the most complex or fussy of output requirements in record time! It means you can improve the scope of your online application in hours or days rather than weeks or months.
  • If you have a major project, such as a three-year tracking study, using the MRDCL engine to automate parts of the process might be advantageous. You can embed MRDCL in a system that carries out other functions automatically to meet client needs.
  • If you have an in-house system, embedding MRDCL can make the analysis and reporting quick and easy to update and improve.

    2. Outputs

   a. Charts

MRDCL can automatically generate a chart for every table. It’s an editable chart in Excel that you can use in other applications, such as PowerPoint. There is no setup involved in using this tool.

   b. PowerPoint reports **

MRDCL’s automated PowerPoint reporting works in two ways. Firstly, you can automatically update an existing PowerPoint presentation or template after running tables. You will need to specify the data sources, but you can achieve this using your own custom templates or MRDCL’s scripting language. This feature is ideal for multiple report production or presentations that need to be updated from time to time.

Secondly, you can use the MRDCL scripting language (or a template of your own design) to generate a new presentation from scratch, controlling the styling, layout and output look and feel. We are unaware of any other comparable software package that can do this directly from crosstabs.

   c. AI

We have not started on this development, but it is the direction we are heading. The AI component of MRDCL will automatically generate a report based on the tabulations you have produced. There will be user controls to hone the report to meet your particular needs. At this stage, we are exploring the most suitable partners for this development and choosing the right solution to offer something the research industry will value.

   3. Tools

Although MRDCL has several unique tools, which separate it from other survey analysis systems. Let’s look at four examples:

   a. Variable specification

MRDCL allows you to define the most complex or biggest variables you will ever need in your analysis. Having these facilities available means you will not face restrictions in the analysis you can generate or pass on to other systems using the connectivity tools.

   b. Templates

MRDCL allows you to build your own templates so that you can perform complex or time-consuming tasks within a template of your design. It means that unskilled staff can produce complex requirements or generate analyses that would take a long time to input. There have been some innovative templates. For example:

  • A template that automatically produces sub-totals and performs two-level ranking in the output.
  • A template that allows you to choose what type of output you want from, say, 20 possible table outputs from a rating scale.
  • A template that lets you create a style for PowerPoint charting to reduce the specifications you need. **
  • A template that manages unaligned data from different waves of a tracking study to avoid recoding data so that it is aligned.

   c. MRDCL’s “Shorthand” language

MRDCL has a shorthand language, known as the pre-processor, that allows you to specify any repetitive requirements. For example, if you want 20 tables from a rating scale grid with 20 statements, you can specify this in a shorthand way, saving you time and making amendments easy.

   d. Script Bubbles **

Script Bubbles allow you to make forms of your own design, so the inputs automatically generate script to generate variables, produce tables or whatever else you want to do in MRDCL. Making a new Script Bubble is easy, allowing users, colleagues and non-experts to generate specifications faultlessly in seconds.


Although MRDCL has been the market leader for crosstabs for many years, its development path has been to adopt modern processes and empower its users to be more productive and better connected to other systems and client needs.

MRDCL remains the market leader for crosstabulations, but our recent developments will improve your productivity and ability to meet customer needs.

I’m sure you’ve got plenty of questions. Please ask contact if you want to know more.

Note: Items marked ** are currently in development with release in Q4 2024.