There are certainly instances when AFF is the clear preferred choice. It is easier for first-time or casual users. Uexplore/Dexter has a learning curve, and is more geared to the more serious data user who wants his/her data in a machine-readable format that can be post-processed. But there are some characteristics that may make Dexter the preferred extraction tool if you care about certain features.
Here is a short list:
[list=] [*]Dexter supports more output formats, including dbf, pdf, and sas7bdat (SAS data set)[*/]
[*]depending on the data set being accessed, Dexter often permits selecting data in volume not support by AFF. For example, it can relatively easy to generate a set of ten specified sf3 tables for all census tracts or block groups in a state using Dexter. AFF (at least the mid-2010 release) often has limits on what kind of geo-within-geo can be selected at one time.
[*]Dexter makes it easy to filter based on data criteria as well as geography. Not hard to choose all places in California with at least 50% Hispanic population.
[*]I have found getting data from AFF into xls to be tedious and maddeningly inconsistent. It seems much easier to me in Dexter.
[*]Reports in Dexter are more compact and I have more control over things such as titles, footnotes, column headers, etc. if I am willing to use Section V.
[*] It is very easy to share your Dexter query results with others just by sending a URL referencing the output file(s).
[*] AFF does not allow accessing their profile data except in the form of printed profiles. Dexter allows you to access the actual data used in the profiles. E.g. you can generate a csv file with all the profile extract data related to poverty for every county in the country all in one simple extraction.
[*]Data can be aggregated, sorted and transposed using Dexter.
[*]Using the companion rankster application, you can extract data and then rank it and easily produce "Top 10" reports.
[*] Sometimes there are data available via Dexter that are not available via AFF. Think STF3, 1980 or STF1, 1990, or 2000 SF data allocated to 2002 state legislative districts (made available for Missouri in 2002).
Last edited by blodgettj
on Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Experimenting with ways to get the bullet list format to work.