[Rd] Writing in R // R 4.2.0 on Windows doesn't work with Dasher

Tomas Kalibera tom@@@k@||ber@ @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Mon May 16 19:08:59 CEST 2022

On 5/15/22 16:10, Paulo Barata wrote:
> To the R developers,
> I noticed today that R 4.2.0 responds to the "Enter" character of 
> Dasher version 5.0.0 beta in "Direct Entry" mode. An "Enter" in Dasher 
> causes the R prompt to jump to the next line, as an "Enter" should do.
> No other characters (letters, digits, special characters like + = & ~ 
> | # $) are accepted by R 4.2.0 through Dasher.
> The "Enter" shows that, somehow, the communication between Dasher and 
> R 4.2.0 through the Windows system is not completely curtailed.

Dear Paulo,

thanks for the report and thanks to all for the useful comments in the 
followup discussion. I've committed a fix to R-devel, 82368, and I would 
be grateful if you could test whether it fixes the problem for you. I've 
tested it only on a small example which is using the same method to 
insert keys to Rgui as Dasher does.

The problem is caused by a limitation in GraphApp, a library used by 
Rgui and included in the R distribution. GraphApp has two modes: Unicode 
windows (with this limitation) and non-Unicode windows (without it). 
GraphApp uses Unicode windows when running in a multi-byte locale, and 
as of R 4.2, this is the case for all systems on recent Windows where 
the native encoding is UTF-8. This means that most likely R 4.1.3 didn't 
work with Dasher on systems running in a multi-byte locale and that most 
likely R 4.2.0 would work with Dasher on old Windows systems (where 
UTF-8 cannot be used as native encoding).

Dasher uses SendInput/KEYEVENTF_UNICODE to inject text into Rgui, which 
is fine as far as I can tell and should work. It didn't work, because 
the Unicode windows didn't handle WM_CHAR nor WM_KEYDOWN/WM_KEYUP for 
VK_PACKET. By design, Unicode windows get input via WM_IME_COMPOSITION 
and WM_KEYDOWN, so I've added support for VK_PACKET to WM_KEYDOWN 
(taking the logic in gdk as an example).

I am cc'ing Jose as Tinn-R has a similar problem, though this patch 
doesn't solve it.


> Regards,
> Paulo Barata
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> On 13/05/2022 16:44, Paulo Barata wrote:
>> To the R developers,
>> I would like to point out an issue that occurs with the new R 4.2.0 
>> running on Windows; this is possibly related to the recent wide 
>> changes made to the Windows port of R. The issue has to do with 
>> writing of the R window.
>> My computer runs on Windows 10 Professional 64-bit with all the 
>> latest updates, and has a 4-core 8-thread Intel Xeon processor with 
>> 32 Gb of RAM.
>> I have some slight impairment in my hands, so for typing I avoid 
>> using the computer keyboard as much as possible. For most of my 
>> typing, I use the software Dasher, a kind of assistive technology 
>> software. Dasher was created by the Inference Group led by Professor 
>> David MacKay (died in 2016) at Cambridge University in England. 
>> Later, Dasher was further developed by Ada Majorek (a Google 
>> engineer, recently deceased).
>> General information on Dasher and about the Dasher Project can be 
>> found on the Inference Group page:
>> http://www.inference.org.uk/dasher/
>> An example of Dasher in action can be seen on this 2-minute YouTube 
>> video:
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr3s4613DX8
>> An one-hour YouTube video of a 2007 Google Talk by Professor MacKay 
>> himself explaining the Dasher concept can be found here:
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpOxbesRNBc
>> In the 2-minute video (the first YouTube address above), the sentence 
>> written through Dasher, for actual use, needs to be copied and then 
>> pasted into another software, say a text editor. But Dasher also has 
>> a "Direct Entry" mode, where words typed are entered directly on the 
>> screen of the text editor or other software -- this is how I use 
>> Dasher to write on the R window.
>> Using Dasher`s "Direct Entry" mode, for all effects, to write a word 
>> through Dasher works exactly like writing the word through the normal 
>> computer keyboard. Somehow (I do not know about system programming), 
>> in "Direct Entry" mode, the output of Dasher is understood by the 
>> computer as an input of the same nature as a keyboard input.
>> But this is the issue: until R 4.1.3, R accepted normally the 
>> word-typing through Dasher. But R 4.2.0 (and R 4.2.0-patched build 
>> r82348, 12 May 2022) does not accept Dasher anymore.
>> So, for now, if I wish to use R during some extended interactive 
>> section (say, for a first look at a complex data set), and if I wish 
>> to use Dasher for this interactive session, then I have to use R 
>> 4.1.3. For using R through programming, I can use the new R 4.2.0, by 
>> writing the program with Dasher in my text editor, and then pasting 
>> that program into R.
>> The latest Windows version of Dasher, version 5.0.0 beta, works 
>> perfectly well with text editors (I use EditPad Pro), with 
>> Microsoft-like Office packages (I use SoftMaker Office), for writing 
>> e-mails (I use Mozilla Thunderbird), for writing on a web page (I use 
>> mostly Mozilla Firefox). It worked perfectly well with R up to 
>> version 4.1.3, but it does not work with R 4.2.0
>> The latest Dasher 5.0.0 beta Windows installer and the source code 
>> can be found on this page below (please click on "Windows installer" 
>> and on "source code", just below the head "Dasher 5.0 beta release"):
>> https://github.com/dasher-project/dasher/releases
>> To set Dasher 5.0.0 beta to the "Direct Entry" mode, after installing 
>> Dasher one should go to Preferences > Application > Application Style.
>> Currently, after the passing of Ada Majorek, the Dasher Project is 
>> being put forward by a group of people in England, but, it seems, at 
>> a very slow pace. They have announced the existence of a version 6 
>> beta, but this is only an online instance of Dasher, there is no 
>> Windows installer, as far as I know. Their web page:
>> https://dasher.acecentre.net/
>> For me, and possibly for other users, the Dasher version 5.0.0 beta 
>> for Windows that is available works perfectly well, and allows me to 
>> use the computer with a proficiency that would be hardly possible 
>> otherwise.
>> Here I request that the R developers take a look at this word-typing 
>> issue that happens with the new R 4.2.0 on Windows.
>> As an R user (I work in ecological research), I can only thank the R 
>> team for this really wonderful piece of statistical software that you 
>> make freely available to us all.
>> Regards,
>> Paulo Barata
>> (Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)
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