[Rd] RE: [R] GUI support from R

Prof Brian D Ripley ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk
Sun, 2 Sep 2001 07:39:48 +0100 (BST)

On Sun, 2 Sep 2001, Byron Ellis wrote:

> IMHO the wrong question is being asked here---it is not a matter of
> underlying toolkit. We could literally spend the rest of our lives arguing
> over toolkit, especially since toolkits come in and out of fashion (X
> widget sets come to mind...), stopped being developed and start again
> (wxWindows had a period of stagnation if I recall) or undergo radical
> changes (gtk as mentioned). Rather I think what really needs to be decided
> is a uniform R level mechanism for GUIs, something philisophically to
> Java's AWT design. In the AWT case, the underlying aspects of the Java
> toolkit representation are implemented using the appropriate system-level
> toolkit (Motif on UNIX, Win32/GDI on Windows,
> I-Forget-The-Name-of-the-MacOS-Windowing-API and so on). Once that toolkit

That's how Tcl/Tk does it.

> has been established then discussions over underlying toolkit become moot
> except for people who want to maintain R's GUI facilities on platform
> foo.

Rather, it becomes moot for people who want such facilities.  I suspect
noone wants to maintain them ....  That Tcl/Tk needs a different low-level
interface on different platforms is a pain: the original R tcltk package
code runs on a call that only exists in Tcl/Tk for Unix.  If that were to
happen again, I am pretty sure that Tcl/Tk would be omitted from the
Windows port of R (and I believe it is from the Classic Mac port).


Event-loop integration is a major issue with GUIs, and it's a toolkit
issue.  R is designed to run an event loop and wants to be in control.

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley@stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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