[R] re: GUI's for teaching

Philippe Grosjean phgrosje at ulb.ac.be
Mon Jul 8 09:44:35 CEST 2002

The large number of projects for R GUI interfaces are not to be regarded as
a negative aspect. It is a bit like life evolution: many trials, and at the
end, only the few best will survive. In computers market, there are other
rules that can result in the survival of a lower quality product (see M$,
for instance), but that is not the case for open source pieces of software.
Ultimately, the best idea in each separate interface will be merged in a few
ones, with clearly dedicated use (poweruser, teaching, beginner, etc...).
Now, the crucial part is to initiate projects, think, develop, rethink, and
redevelop,... and *to discuss ideas*, which is exactly what we do here. The
thread on R GUI is already long, and still continues, indicating many
interests. I believe that it should be nice to put all this together and
make a little R GUI Web site with perhaps a dedicated r-gui-develop mailing
list. Does somebody already started something like that, or plan to do so?
Otherwise, I volonteer for building the Web site and will make a page which
summarizes ideas and point to web pages for the various R GUI projects. I
have access to all mails in this list, and know about Omegahat, RWeb, R-Com.
If somebody else initiated a R GUI project, could he send me a web page
link, or a little summary of his project?


Philippe Grosjean

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( ( ( ( (   rue de l'Ile d'Yeu, BP 21105, 44311 Nantes Cedex 3
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( ( ( ( ( 	SciViews project coordinator (http://www.sciviews.org)
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-----Message d'origine-----
De : owner-r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
[mailto:owner-r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch]De la part de RenE J.V. Bertin
Envoyé : lundi 8 juillet 2002 00:49
À : deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu
Cc : r-help at r-project.org
Objet : Re: [R] re: GUI's for teaching

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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