[R] re: GUI's for teaching

RenE J.V. Bertin rjvbertin at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 8 00:48:59 CEST 2002

Hmmm. Choice is a good thing, but so much choice?! Then why not just expect 
every user to develop his or her own GUI?!

I fully agree that whatever technology is going to be used to develop a GUI 
for R, it should ideally be something that contains a layer of abstraction 
within it, allowing it to run natively on all supported platforms, and not 
require an additional layer like (apparently) gtk needs X11 to run on the 
Mac (but afaik it is native on windows, so it will probably be carbonised or 
whatever for osx sooner or later). But to get a useful GUI that responds to 
the expectations and requirements of the largest number of people possible, 
a consensus will have to be found on the beast's phenotype (how it looks, 
what it does, etc.) and its genotype (the codebase to be used). This is how 
OpenOffice was developped in a little over a year, this is how mozilla is 
being developped (the former using its own layers of abstraction for 
interfacing with the host, the latter [mainly, methinks] using gtk). Of 
course, linux but also R itself, and probably FreeBSD on which Darwin is 
based are also developped by countless developpers -- but in concert.
I am afraid that the other alternative will result to, indeed, numerous, 
more-or-less-half-hearted attempts that will surely work, each do something 
a little differently or a little something different, leaving the user with 
the existential question which version again was able to tackle the problem 
at hand, and does it run on my system.

PS: your passionate account of choice reminded me of my own days as a 
fervent Mac user & advocate -- but it also gave me some (more) reasons why I 
will probably not go back (except when Michael Robertson decides to port 
Lindows to the PPC :)))

PPS: have you ever tried to count the number of Aquaish themes for 
gnome/gtk? Combine that with Oroborus/X (a window manager for X/Darwin in 
rootless mode), and you get pretty close -- at least to untrained eyes 8^]

Met vriendelijke groet,

RenE J.V. Bertin
College de France/LPPA
11, place Marcelin Berthelot
75005 Paris, France

>From: Jan de Leeuw <deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu>
>To: "RenE J.V.Bertin" <rjvbertin at hotmail.com>
>CC: r-help at r-project.org
>Subject: Re: [R] re: GUI's for teaching
>Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 10:18:43 -0700

>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 
>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.


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