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

Byron Ellis bellis@hsph.harvard.edu
Sun, 2 Sep 2001 14:05:06 -0400 (EDT)

On Sun, 2 Sep 2001, Prof Brian D Ripley wrote:

> On Sun, 2 Sep 2001, Byron Ellis wrote:
> That's how Tcl/Tk does it.

Yup, and AWT and a couple of other packages (Smalltalk too, but Smalltalk
is a strange place :-))

> 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).

Thats more an issue of the Tcl/Tk people making a mistake than anything
else. Package maintenance has to happen whether or not a 'generic' GUI
toolkit binding for R is developed. The same thing happens in other
spaces, just look at the Perl database stuff. Once upon a time every
database on the planet had its own unique Perl package. Now they have DBI
and everyone thinks its the best thing since sliced bread. However, DBI
doesn't really *do* very much except define a particular interface
mechanism. I'm saying do the same for the GUI---the implementation work
will be more or less the same and there will have to be a 'toolkit
specific' capability ('cause someone will be unable to live with foo
widget that only exists on platform bar) but it can be done. (For
instance, OpenGL implements an extension mechanism, albeit somewhat

> [...]
> 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.

Yup. Thats gonna be a problem with every GUI toolkit since GUI
interactivity is psychologically important. Its also a problem with any
embedding project since they too will want control of the event loop.

> -- 
> 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

Byron Ellis (bellis@hsph.harvard.edu)
"Oook" - The Librarian

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