[Rd] How graphical an interface should the default be?

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Fri Feb 25 12:11:01 CET 2005

install/update.packages will have a lot of changes in 2.1.0, and I have 
been adding some widgets to go along with this.

- Rather than just CRAN and BIOC, you have a character vector of
   repositories.  There is a function setRepositories() to set the
   appropriate option().

- There is no default CRAN, but a function chooseCRANmirror() to set a
   mirror, which is invoked if you try to access CRAN without setting a

- update.packages(ask="graphics") brings up a listbox for you to de-select
   packages (all available updates are pre-selected).

- install.packages() with no/empty pkgs argument brings up a listbox of
   all available packages (including those inside bundles).

- menu(graphics=TRUE) is implemented.

These can be set up to use widgets where available (Windows, if Tk is 
available under X11, I hope Aqua before release), and have a text-mode 
fallback (better than the current menu(), but in that spirit). (Except 
that is install.packages: text-mode selection from 480 packages even in 
three columns is not useful to me, but a scrolling list works well as 
Windows users of R already know.)

My question is:

 	What should be default be?

Options might be:

- use the graphics widget if available.

- make the graphics the default on Windows (it will always be available,
   but not necessarily on the right screen under DCOM uses).

- make text-mode the default on Unix.

- do different things for different tools.  Currently setRepositories()
   and chooseCRANmirror() default to graphics-if-possible, and
   update.packages() defaults to text mode (which gives more
   detailed information).

I am not really in favour of making the defaults a set of options, but 
that is possible.

This is a request for input on what would be a good compromise for general 
R users (and not just the R-devel audience).

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at 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 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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