[Rd] Wish list

Gabor Grothendieck ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Sun Jan 1 14:47:02 CET 2006

This is my New Year wishlist for R features.  One
common thread is that I find I sometimes use languages
other than R including javascript, Windows batch and
gawk.  Others have mentioned other languages too.  It
would be nice if, in those cases I could use R
simplifying development into a single environment
(viz. R).

The following are not in any order.

1. Self Contained Executables

Make it possible to create self contained R
executables.  Something like tcl starkits
or Python py2exe
is what I am thinking of.  Its ok if they
are interpreted as long as its all transparent.

2. R as a Filter

Support using R as a filter analogously to
awk/gawk.  e.g.

    echo a x 3 | R -f myprog.R | findstr /i answer
    echo a x 3 | R -e "chartr('x', 'X', readLines(STDIN()))" | findstr /i X

This would allow replacement of certain awk/gawk
filters with R.  In the above STDIN or some
would refer to the echo output, not to further
input from the script.  I think /dev/stdin
can already be used in UNIX but not in Windows.

3. Microsoft Active Scripting Language

Make R into a Microsoft Active Scripting
language.  Nearly every other major scripting
language including perl, python, ruby, tcl,
oorexx, vbscript, jscript and others have
Microsoft Active Scripting support.  This would
allow R to be used like javascript in HTML files
in Microsoft environments and also in any other
software that supports Microsoft's active
scripting interface.

4. Extend Clipboard Support to Non-Text Objects on

If one selects and copies a table in Internet
Explorer (IE) one can then paste it into Excel and
it comes out as expected with one Excel cell per
IE table cell.  However, R does not currently
support this level of integration. (Current
workaround is to paste it into Excel and then copy
it back out of Excel.  Excel will add tabs to the
text that is so copied.)

I understand that this feature may be in R 2.3.0
but am mentioning it for completeness.

5. Handhelds

Version(s) of R for handheld computers such as
Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry, etc.
UNIX-based handhelds would likely be simplest
but the others would likely be useful to a wider

6. Issue Tracking in Packages

Standard method of tracking issues in CRAN
packages.  Provide svn and Trac support or
equivalent to CRAN package authors or at least
have a common change log mechanism.  There is
currently no uniform way of finding out what has
changed in a package.

7. system

The arguments of "system(...)" should be extended
in various operating systems so that a consistent
set is available across them.  Right now it works
differently under Windows and UNIX.

8. Extend Grid to Base Graphics

Rework base graphics so that they use grid
graphics underneath to the extent possible or else
leave them as is but have a version or package
that emulate them using grid graphics.

9. Eliminate Perl

Get rid of all use of perl within R.  The parts
of R that use perl have not changed much probably
because its too onerous to have to deal with a
complex multilanguage setup.  Eliminating perl might
speed up improvements in those areas.  This mostly
affects the package buildin gprocess which could
then be rehosted within R as a package building

10. Event Loop

Add an event loop mechanism to facilitate GUI
programming in R and also to facilitate the development
of facilities to allow higher levels of interaction
within grid graphics.

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