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

A.J. Rossini rossini@u.washington.edu
02 Sep 2001 05:05:16 -0700

>>>>> "BE" == Byron Ellis <bellis@hsph.harvard.edu> writes:

    BE> IMHO the wrong question is being asked here---it is not a
    BE> matter of underlying toolkit. We could literally spend the
    BE> rest of our lives arguing over toolkit, especially since
    BE> toolkits come in and out of fashion (X widget sets come to
    BE> mind...), stopped being developed and start again (wxWindows
    BE> had a period of stagnation if I recall) or undergo radical
    BE> changes (gtk as mentioned). Rather I think what really needs
    BE> to be decided is a uniform R level mechanism for GUIs,

I think the primary problem is writing it in the first place.  

There is access to AWT and Swing, via RSJava (when it's feeling
stable... sigh...).

There is the tcltk toolkit, which we are having some success using,
actually (menu's, etc).

You can argue about the merits of anything all you want, but he who
codes first wins in this game.  And is stuck with having to maintain
it, if they plan on anyone else using it...

I think this is the big issue.  No one has much time, and this is a
big time sink, especially with multiple moving targets (R vs "threaded
R", event loops; various GUI API changes; supporting libraries; lots
of other critical issues which are obvious enough not to state...).  I
think it'll take a hacker with Brian or Duncan's skills to craft it
fast enough to not let it get stuck.

While a uniform API would be nice for R, to attach to any toolkit, I
suspect it is non trivial.  There are movements/projects like "AnyGUI"
for Python, which are attempting to be flexible over a choice of
toolkits from a single set of code.  However, it seems that every GUI
API has its own unique twists on layout, etc, that make this
seriously non-trivial.

Best just to pick one and go...


A.J. Rossini				Rsrch. Asst. Prof. of Biostatistics
U. of Washington Biostatistics		rossini@u.washington.edu	
FHCRC/SCHARP/HIV Vaccine Trials Net	rossini@scharp.org
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