[Rd] Minimal build of R ...

Simon Urbanek simon.urbanek at r-project.org
Fri May 3 02:31:42 CEST 2013

On May 2, 2013, at 6:18 PM, Gabriel Becker wrote:

> Jony,
> I'm currently writing up the paper for something with a similar result but
> very different implementation. The RBrowserPlugin package/browser plugin
> (joint with my advisor Duncan Temple Lang) embeds R within the web browser
> as an NPAPI plugin.
> This approach allows full bi-directional communication between R and the
> javascript engine (including direct function calling and references to
> native objects in both directions) using a user's existing local R
> installation (including packages).

Minor detail: it requires you to have R *and* a special plugin which makes it pretty much non-deployable. It's completely unrelated to what Jony is proposing - which doesn't require any dependencies and is actually pretty cool and would be useful if feasible. FWIW: There are many ways to run R from a browser that already exist - without the need for plugins or other client-side hacks - that's the beauty of modern browsers :).

To get this back on the actual topic: I have been toying with cross-compiling R when I was porting it on the iPhone and it's possible, however, you can't use the build process as-is. It does build core R properly, but the problem is that you need to bootstrap R to build any packages. I worked around the problem at the time by building packages on another platform and re-using those files (things like lazy-loaded DBs, compiled RD files etc.).

I can imagine that you'll need some equivalent to dynamic linking, but conceptually it's nothing else but calling functions, so I think you should be able to compile each package separately and just replace the dynload code by code that loads another JavaScript. The nice thing is that packages will simply be just another JS libraries. That's all in theory, I didn't actually try that part. I suspect you'll have a lot of work, e.g. you'll need to map all the I/O operations that load compiled/stored R code, documentation, data from somewhere etc. Good luck!
If all fails, you can always compile R for JS/Linux ;).


> Devel source at https://github.com/gmbecker/RFirefox, release, (hopefully)
> officially cross-platform version to coincide with the paper going off for
> review.
> I had toyed with the idea of the emscripten approach, but I think putting R
> in the browser once is enough for me at the moment so I will happily keep
> an eye on your project instead of attacking that myself :).
> As for your actual question I can't really say, other than that I suspect
> you will not be able to dispense with base and methods, but that I would
> conjecture that stats is "optional".
> ~G
> On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 9:12 AM, Jony Hudson <jony.hudson at imperial.ac.uk>wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I'm trying to cross-compile R to javascript so that it can run in a
>> web-browser. Take as long as you need to stop laughing. So, as I was saying
>> - I want to try and get a build of R running in the browser. [If you're not
>> familiar with it already, you might enjoy looking at emscripten.org. It's
>> a remarkably capable tool for translating LLVM bitcode to javascript. Check
>> out some of the demos!]
>> I'm trying to start out with the most minimal build of R possible. I can
>> turn off various options in the configure script, but I'm wondering about
>> the bundled R packages (base, stats etc). I'm guessing that the native code
>> portions of these packages are dynamically loaded at runtime, which will
>> probably need patching. To start off, I'd like to not build these packages
>> if possible.
>> So, is there a way to configure which packages in the library get built or
>> is it just a case of editing the makefile? And is there a minimal set of
>> them that would still allow R to run (not be useful - that can come later -
>> just run)?
>> Thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide :-)
>> Jony
>> --
>> Centre for Cold Matter, The Blackett Laboratory,
>> Imperial College London, London SW7 2BW
>> T: +44 (0)207 5947741
>> http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/jony.hudson
>> http://www.imperial.ac.uk/ccm/research/edm
>> http://www.monkeycruncher.org
>> http://j-star.org/
>> --
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
> -- 
> Gabriel Becker
> Graduate Student
> Statistics Department
> University of California, Davis
> 	[[alternative HTML version deleted]]
> ______________________________________________
> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

More information about the R-devel mailing list