[R] re: GUI's for teaching

Zed A. Shaw zedshaw at zedshaw.com
Fri Jul 5 01:39:41 CEST 2002

Hi Folks,

I'm sorry I missed this message.  Myself and a Professor at a California
university are currently designing a simplified R GUI that is targeted at
Linux, FreeBSD, MacOSX, and Windows and will provide an interface to doing
"canned" procedures and project based operations.  I'm currently building
the initial interface design and then we will start a project on sourceforge
for it.  The project will be opensource and used to teach MBA students in
statistics courses.

The tentative name for it is obveRsive woRkbench, and it is currently way to
early to even guess at a release date or even if the project is actually
feasible.  Since the project will be open source, I'm hoping to get a few
collaborators on it (hint hint).  It will be hosted on sourceforge or an
equivalent when we are ready.

We are planning to do the following:

1.  Have various output viewing capabilites, but mostly an HTML/graphics
2.  Project based operation, where students can organize their work by
3.  Very simple data editing capabilities for different data types.
4.  Dynamic "canned" routines with point-and-click-fill-in-dummy-form
operations.  The routines will be extendable, so you'll be able to add your
own when you need.
5.  Using the CRAN update/install facility to make it easy to install new
obveRsive packages.
6.  Utilizing a cross platform GUI system, either FLTK or wxWindows in C++
or Java (depending on which is easier and more stable).
7.  Heavily user tested with a focus on usability, targeting students and
regular folks, not professors of statistics :-)

Any commments on this are more than welcome, and we'll be announcing it
officially soon.

Zed A. Shaw
University of British Columbia

On 6/25/02 2:31 AM, "Rohan Sadler" <rsadler at agric.uwa.edu.au> wrote:

> Dear All,
> This is a question to sound out possibilities.
> I am with the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the
> University of Western Australia, representing a few of the more
> statistically minded in the faculty. Essentially, there have been
> problems in the past with software support, changing over statistical
> software, and paying lots of money for it. In R you have an advanced
> statistical software package, it is free and it is adaptable. Also the
> maths department at UWA is using it on an informal basis and so support
> over the long term is available. The only reason why the faculty is not
> using R as a whole is because there is no GUI equivalent to
> Minitab/SPLUS/Genstat in R that can be used for undergraduate teaching
> purposes (unless I'm seriously mistaken). In RWindows there is the GUI,
> but it is not designed to carry statistical functions with buttons for
> options and this is what is needed for low statistical level undergrads.
> There is RWeb, but at this stage of development you wont find many
> takers in the faculty.
> What I want to know is this: can anyone give me a quote on what it will
> cost to develop a RWindows clone of the Minitab GUI. This GUI would
> support initially the simple six (EDA, probabilities and quantiles of
> distributions, t-tests,one-way anova, chi-square, and simple linear
> regression), and have the potential to develop into the next level of
> statistical analysis (glms, multivariate methods, time series and
> spatial - analytical problems common across our faculty). If the cost of
> development is comparable to present licence maintenance fees at FNAS
> then I think our small group can argue for its adoption. Not only that,
> the benefits to undergraduate teaching in other universities would be
> immense. If development costs are high then other faculties at other
> universities, where the software licencing arrangements are also
> troublesome, are also invited to participate in this potential project.
> I imagine this question has been discussed before, but I hope to have
> but an interesting turn to it.
> Regards
> Rohan Sadler
> Ecosystems Research Group
> School of Plant Biology (Botany)
> Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
> +61 8 9380 7914
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Zed A. Shaw

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