[R] Cutom graphing : Which package (Base, Grid or Lattice package) ?

Neil Osborne r_stuff_online at hotmail.com
Sat May 11 04:59:57 CEST 2002

Hi All,

Over the years, I have written a number of custom time series graphing 
modules (in ANSI C). I want to make these graphs available in R. After 
considerable thought (as well as feedback fom this NG), I have decided to 
re-write (atleast some of the routines in R).

Basically, this is what my R function needs to do:

1. create a parent (container) frame
2. Define n (vertically stacked) child windows within the parent (where n is 
1,2 or 3)

So the object factory (creator function) would look something like this :

custom.graph.create<- function (win1_perc_size, win2_perc_size, backcolor  )

where win*N_perc_size is the % of the HEIGHT of the parent screen assigned 
to the Nth child window

The three child windows should share the same x axis (the calender date), 
but they would each have
seperate y axis.

In addition the returned object should;
1. allows you to add data to a specified window
   ( e.g. fooAddSeries(custom_graph_obj, dataset, child_win_number) )

2. Redraw the parent (and all children) when the parent window is resized

3. Be able to respond to mouse movements over a child window
  (so I can display info like date : value etc)

4. Be able to "scroll" through *LARGE* time series
  (approx 20,000 datapoints in certain cases) - using a "scrolling" window

5. Be able to "zoom in/out" to a specified granularity
  (daily, weekly etc) - maybe use the window function ?

As I'm sure you'll appreciate, this is a lot of work, and before I actually 
sat down to do some coding, I thought it would be prudent to solicit some 
advice from someone who had done something similar or had experience with 
custom plotting/graphing in R.

I have learnt the hard way, that as far as R is concerened, it's very easy 
to waste several weeks re-inventing the wheel, since it is such a 
functionally rich environment.

There appear to be several competing (but not entirely compatable) 
"graphing" packages/extensions for R. The base package, which seems to be 
the most robust, does not appear to have all the features I need (I may be 
wrong though ...), The grid package which appears to have the functionality, 
I need is not well documented, and is full of internal functions ..., and 
I'm not too sure about the lattice package.

I would be most grateful for any help on:

1. Recommendation on which package to use (base, grid or lattice ?)
2. General guidline (pref with skeleton code/stubs) on
   how to proceed - I haven't written any graphing functions in R before !

3. Pointers to more information

Many Thanks in Advance



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