[R] re: GUI's for teaching

RenE J.V. Bertin rjvbertin at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 8 14:45:09 CEST 2002

>From: Jan de Leeuw <deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu>
>To: "RenE J.V. Bertin" <rjvbertin at hotmail.com>
>Subject: Re: [R] re: GUI's for teaching
>Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 20:14:04 -0700

>On Sunday, Jul 7, 2002, at 15:48 America/Los_Angeles, RenE J.V. Bertin 
>>Hmmm. Choice is a good thing, but so much choice?! Then why not just 
>>expect every user to develop his or her own GUI?!
>That is unrealistic to expect, but it would be ideal, of course.

  Then we do not agree on this. But it all depends on where you place your 

>>phenotype (how it looks, what it does, etc.) and its genotype (the 
>>codebase to be used).
>The same genotype can lead to different phenotypes (Qt for Windows looks 
>different from Qt for X11 looks different

  Yes, it looks different in that it "adapts to" the environment it runs in. 
However, buttons and the like will still be more or less in the same place, 
and more importantly, the philosophy behind the man/machine interaction 
protocols, the ergonomics, remain the same.

>from the Aqua version for OS X -- same story for tcl/tk). Mapping toolkits 
>to native calls uses the strength of the
>native toolkit -- such as services on OS X (or NextStep).

  Again, it is a matter where you place your priorities and your resources. 
Developping an interface that makes use of all sorts of facilities of an 
operating system's layer that some claim to be exiting is probably very 
exciting and satisfying indeed for them. But then what -- you have a nice 
tool, but you can't exchange with the majority of others? I think that's a 
pity and, in the context of R (intended to be multi-platform), an effort 

>>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).
>OpenOffice now exists for the Mac in two versions: one on top of X11, the 
>other using Carbon. Of course, they look

  Last time I looked, OO only ran under X11.

>different.  Mozilla exists as Classic, as CFM-Carbon, and recently as a 
>Mach-O Carbon application. Again the versions
>look different, because they inherit different components from  the 
>different toolkits. Moreover Mozilla's Gecko engine is used in Chimera on 
>Mozdev, which is a pure Cocoa application. And again looks very different.

  Hmm. If they look so different while all using technology from the same 
vendor, who is to blaim -- if blaim there is to be found?

>My guess is that the 20+ versions of the GUI will all have roughly the same 
>menus, and roughly the same
>capabilities. And that these capabilities will not be very different from 
>those of ESS.

  Then that's 20 wheels reinvented :)

>Choice includes the option to run X11 with any window manager, with gnome 
>or KDE, either on top of Darwin
>or of Linux, either on PPC or X86.

  Amen. And how much choice in this matter do you have under Aqua? Last time 
I looked (February), you could choose between candy-colours and basically 
almost grayscale appearance, there were a few (unstable) hacks to customise 
a bit more (and outcry on the forums for more control), and it didn't seem 
possible to even specify a solid colour for the desktop rather than an 
image... OTOH, many users are probably (blisfully) unaware of the fact they 
don't have (unlimited) choice (and consider me a weirdo because I modified 
the look of my Windows boxes -- is that Linux you're running there? :)))

>Illustrates my point. If people want to make X11 applications look as Aqua 
>as possible, then one might as well write
>applications in Aqua. Makes them much more powerful as well.

  I think they would be very upset if you suggested that to them :) They 
will probably feel they should be able to give whatever look they like to 
their environment of choice. Just have a look at the themes sections on 
freshmeat.org ...

Anyway, this is drifting too faR...



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


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