[R] re: GUI's for teaching

Jan de Leeuw deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu
Sun Jul 7 19:18:43 CEST 2002

There will soon be more than 10, maybe more than 20,  different GUI's
for R, and that is how it should be. You just don't want all of them on CRAN.
But generally, the more the better.

Think of Emacs on the Mac, for instance. There is Classic, Carbon, Cocoa,
Darwin, Xemacs, GNU Emacs. All running on top of the vanilla Unix code,
which can still be used from the command line. Lots of choice.

Think of TeX on OS X. Excellent implementations in Carbon (OzTeX, CMacTeX),
Cocoa (TexShop, iTeXMac), all running on top of teTeX. All
functionally basically equivalent, but differing in ease-of-use, degree
in which one can customize, flexibility. Again, lots of choice.

Of course most people on OS X will prefer Cocoa R, but some may want
to run ESS in Cocoa Emacs, and some may even want to use
gnome/KDE/Qt/wxWindows/FLTK/tcltk and so on. Great. There
is something to be said for cross-platform development, but
you cannot seriously expect someone with access to the Cocoa API's
to develop for an X11 based toolkit. And you cannot expect someone
who lives in TeXShop, Cocoa Emacs, and Chimera (Navigator)
to happily switch to a gnome/gtk interface to run their R.

On Sunday, Jul 7, 2002, at 09:29 America/Los_Angeles, RenE J.V.Bertin wrote:

> Hi,
> Another praiseworthy initiative, especially point 7!! :)) However, concerning point 6, I have some doubts. Java is undoubtedly very cross-platform, but it also quite slow and a drain on resources. If you are considering Omegahat's SJava: the Windows binary is obsolete although that may be easy to remediate, and the source pakage requires an SDK to be installed, something not everybody needs otherwise. I don't know the other alternatives well enough -- I didn't like what I saw of wxWindows, though :) -- but they do not appear to be used very widely. Why don't you consider gtk? This is actively being actively developped, there exists an associated resource editor (glade), it runs on multiple platforms, and last-but-not-least there is already a beginning of a GUI interface for R written using it. An alternative is TrollTech's QT, the powerful basis for the KDE environment. It too exists on multiple platforms, and may actually be more platform-independent than GTK. I think it !
 may !
> be used freely in open source projects.
> As to the interface design: did you see my post in this thread where I mentioned NCSS? It has a simple interface design that is quite elegant and self-explaining, and that should be easy to interface to a CLI environment like R inherently is.
> I do not at this point volunteer as a developper, but I certainly will want to beta-test once you're a bit further advanced with the project!
> Cheers,
> RenE Bertin
> PS: univ. of B.C., that's in wonderful Vancouver, isn't it? How are the dogwoods this year?
> -------
> 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 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.
> [...]
> 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
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Jan de Leeuw; Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Statistics;
US mail: 9432 Boelter Hall, Box 951554, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1554
phone (310)-825-9550;  fax (310)-206-5658;  email: deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu
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