[R] R GUI For Which User?

Stuart Leask stuart.leask at nottingham.ac.uk
Mon Jul 15 09:57:46 CEST 2002

Ah yes - one stable, powerful, flexible, well-supported stats engine, with a
variety of GUI frontends that will be used depending on where one is coming
from. Hey, that sounds like heaven...


Dr Stuart Leask MA MRCPsych, Clinical Lecturer in Psychiatry
University of Nottingham Dept of Psychiatry, Duncan Macmillan House
Porchester Road, Nottingham. NG3 6AA. UK

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Putler" <dputler at scu.edu>
To: <r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch>
Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2002 7:11 PM
Subject: Re: [R] R GUI For Which User?

> I also agree with Philippe Grosjean that there is a need to investigate
> effects of different types of GUIs on software "usability". To do that,
> however, there is a need to develop a set of appropriate metrics, and to
> understand that the appropriateness of a given metric (and ultimately a
> type of GUI) is likely to be conditional on the type of user.
> My sense is that the heat of the rhetoric in this discussion is driven by
> perceived differences in implicit metrics and student/user types.  If I am
> training students to become professional biostatisticians who will be
> analyzing data from clinical drug trials, then my concerns (really the
> important metrics) relate to the ability of the student to do the most
> complete and appropriate analysis possible in a way that can consistently
> replicated.  In this instance, the most preferred user interface for
> these students is going to be a text editor or an IDE.  On the otherhand,
> my students are MBAs who will ultimately be marketing managers, placing
> in a situation where they will be "customers" of statistical analyses
> then analysts themselves, then my concerns and appropriate metrics are
> different.  Specifically, I want to make these students informed buyers of
> statistical analysis.  The best way to make them informed about the
> of statistical analysis, and how to use the results of an analysis to make
> better managerial decisions, is to have them actually conduct several
> analyses and have them apply the results to a managerial problem in a
> low-risk, classroom environment.  However, in this sort of environment the
> two things I want to accomplish are: (1) minimizing the time it takes them
> be able to conduct a usable (but likely imperfect) analysis and (2)
> minimizing the frustration level they experience when working with the
> software.  In this instance the best interface will be very
> oriented, which will greatly limit a student's freedom in the types of
> analyses s/he can conduct, but will keep them out of "trouble" and
> the time it takes them to use the software in a useful way.
> So why this long-winded discussion?  The point I want to make is that
> probably isn't a single "ideal" interface to R.  In a related thread, one
> contributor commented that there were 10 GUIs for R in some form of
> development, and there could ultimately be 20 (my sense is the author
> perceived this to be a bad thing).  It is possible that 10 different GUIs
> the right number, although it is an empirical question.  The saving grace
> that most (all)? of us are empirical researchers.
> Dan Putler
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