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

Robert Gentleman rgentlem at fhcrc.org
Fri Feb 25 12:54:31 CET 2005

On Feb 25, 2005, at 3:11 AM, Prof Brian Ripley wrote:

> 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
>   mirror.
> - 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).

Thanks for taking this on - it looks like a big step forward. I have  
some pretty minor comments/questions. We will, of course, try to adapt  
the BioC code in time...

  We probably want to be sure that any function calling one of these has  
complete control and can override user defined defaults.

  I am not completely clear on your model for how the repositories are  
searched though. Two questions come to mind: 1) How do I get the most  
recent version of a package, regardless of which repository it is in?  
2) Can a package from one repository have its dependencies resolved in  
another repository, or not? (this last one is a real can of worms - in  
my view, as one might really prefer a same repository solution, but  
that means that repositories might need to completely contain CRAN -  
which is clearly less desirable). And of course this may be too fine a  
level of detail, but these problems have come up in our experience.

I think it would be nice if getting dependencies had two (or more  
levels), so that I could get only those packages that the current  
package "Depends" on, and a second level where I could
get both the "Suggests" and the "Depends". For me (at least) Suggests  
is weaker, and for many  users the "Suggests" set of packages is not  
always needed - the "Depends" set, is though. Currently the  
dependencies option seems to only allow TRUE and FALSE.


> --  
> 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
> ______________________________________________
> R-devel at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
| Robert Gentleman              phone: (206) 667-7700                    
| Head, Program in Computational Biology   fax:  (206) 667-1319   |
| Division of Public Health Sciences       office: M2-B865               
| Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center                                 
| email: rgentlem at fhcrc.org                                              

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