[R] Neat way of using R for pivoting?

Greg Snow greg.snow at ihc.com
Tue Sep 20 21:45:32 CEST 2005

>>> Gabor Grothendieck <ggrothendieck at gmail.com> 09/20/05 11:31AM >>>
>> Just one comment here lest we be arguing against a strawman.
>> While I agree that reproducibility can be a problem with pivot
>> if created interactively and this applies to just about anything you
>> in Excel if done interactively, it should also be realized that
Excel is 
>> completely programmable, like R, using VBA or any language
(including R!)
>> via its COM object interface. 
>> The fact that Excel has both an interactive interface and a
>> interface whereas R has only a script-based interface puts it ahead,
>> behind, R in at least some respects.

Just one comment here lest we be arguing against a strawman.  
R has both interactive and script-based interfaces available and has
for a long time (I remember working with an early port of S in the
1980's on VMS machines which if you used the old Tek10 graphics driver
(anyone else remember the days of printer()...show() and 
tektronics(sp?) dumb terminals?) allowed you to click on a point in 
your graph and have it labelled).

One of the big differences I see between R and Excel is that while
they both have script and gui based interfaces, the gui interfaces
for R (take Rcmdr for example) provide an aid to learning, while
still encouraging the use of command lines, scripts, and functions,
while Excel hides the script interface from all but experts and 
encourages non-reproducable clicking.

Just because a software package has a capability does not mean much if
the overall design promotes the use of a less desirable feature.  I
remember one job where before I came along they were using a
spreedsheet to compute a column of numbers, highlighting and printing
out those numbers, then hand entering these same numbers into a
different spreadsheet.  Dr. Burns has already posted the url that
contains another of my experiances with intelligent people getting
caught in one of Excel's traps (and yes Excel has a feature that would
have prevented the trap, but Excel convieniently hid the need to use

Greg Snow, Ph.D.
Statistical Data Center, LDS Hospital
Intermountain Health Care
greg.snow at ihc.com
(801) 408-8111

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