[R] Trouble with HTML search engine

Brian Beckage Brian.Beckage at uvm.edu
Thu Apr 22 16:00:14 CEST 2004

I tried under Mac OS 10.3.3 using


from within xemacs using Safari and the "R search engine" page comes 
up.  I tried two searches on 'lm' and 'matrix' and it seemed to work 
fine.  This is very nice as I have not been able to use the R Search 
Engine on this system despite having Java enabled, etc.


At 2:43 PM +0100 4/22/04, Damon Wischik wrote:
>There have been a number of posts to this list by people having trouble
>with the HTML search engine. Often these troubles are caused by incorrect
>setups (user hasn't installed Java properly, or Java is disabled, or
>Javascript is disabled). Sometimes the trouble persists even when Java is
>installed properly.
>I have written an alternative HTML search engine, which is based on
>Javascript rather than Java. (Hopefully, this means that there is less
>that can go wrong.) I haven't wrapped it up in a package yet, because I
>don't know how well it works or even if there is any interest. If you
>would like to try it, you can:
>(Or you can download the code and run it locally. You will also need to
>download searchtemplate.html from the same location. You can then run
>helpHTML(searchTemplate=localfilename) to tell it to use your local copy
>of searchtemplate.html.)
>I've tested it on Windows XP cross {R1.8.0,R1.9.0} cross {IE,Firebird}.
>I've also tested it on Debian 3.0 with R1.8.0 cross {Mozilla,Firebird}.
>I'd be grateful to learn whether it works elsewhere.
>Searching is a bit slow. On my newish computer it takes three seconds or
>so. On an older departmental machine it takes ten seconds. Such is
>(Javascript) life.
>My searching algorithm is not the same as the current searching algorithm.
>I wrote this for my own use, and so I've used a scoring mechanism which
>reflects the way I like to search. The text at the top of the search page
>explains some of the options.
>There are obviously things I don't understand about the current help
>setup. If anyone is sufficiently interested in this to explain them to me,
>I would be grateful. (1) On my Windows XP setup, R writes an index in the
>directory it was installed. What if it doesn't have write permission?  (2)
>On my Debian setup, R copies all of the HTML help into a temporary
>directory. Why not just refer to the files where they are, rather than
>copying them all across? Because I don't understand these two points, I've
>written my indexing routines to (a) create a search index in a temporary
>directory, and (b) refer to the files in their install directories. My
>indexing routines run the same under both Windows and Linux.
>ISSUES WITH R -------------
>The R "Installation and administration"  document tells us that "Sun's
>Java Run-time Environment j2re 1.4.2_02 does not work under Linux". Prof
>Ripley said on 1 April 2004 that "if Linux/Unix, Sun JRE 1.4.2_02/3/4 are
>broken"  This is news to those like myself who run Linux with Sun's JRE
>1.4.2_03 and find that all their other applets work fine. (Though I'm sure
>there are bugs in the JRE, as in most complex projects.)
>On my computer, the trouble boiled down to this: the Javascript which
>displays search results was unable to interface with the Java applet which
>performed the search. As far as I am aware, there are no published
>standards which govern this interface. Therefore it is necessary to rely
>on vendor documentation (insofar as we can say that organizations which
>distribute free software are vendors). In the case of Mozilla, this
>interface is called LiveConnect; some documentation is available at
>mozilla.org. Generally speaking, an object on a web page may export
>certain methods, making them available to Javascript. For example, an
>object which contains a Java applet typically makes available the static
>methods of the classes in that applet. Again, I am not aware of any
>published standards on which methods are exported, so again we have to
>rely on vendor documentation. In the case of Sun's Java, the documentation
>explains how to use these exported methods
>However, the R HTML search page does not follow this documentation. I
>found that if I alter the R HTML search page to conform to this
>documentation, it works.
>It is always going to be difficult to write portable code when there are
>no published standards, only vendor-specific documentation. I have
>therefore attempted, in my Javascript search, to stick to pure ECMAscript
>(though undoubtedly I have failed in places).
>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
>PLEASE do read the posting guide! http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html

Brian Beckage
Department of Botany
University of Vermont
Marsh Life Science Building
Burlington, VT 05405

Phone:  802 656-0197
Fax  :  802 656-0440
email:  Brian.Beckage at uvm.edu
web  :  www.uvm.edu/~bbeckage

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