[R] Problems in Recommending R

Warren Young warren at etr-usa.com
Tue Feb 3 15:00:54 CET 2009

friedrich.leisch at stat.uni-muenchen.de wrote:
> For technical reasons there are some conditions: the homepage is
> maintained via SVN like the R sources, so all should be plain HTML, no
> content management system etc.

Consider using a static templating system, or a higher-level document 
language like DocBook's "website" variant; perhaps even Sweave?

The idea is, you write your pages in a non-HTML format that gets 
compiled to HTML, just like building a program.  Such tools let you do 
things like add a common navigation bar to all pages, so you can stop 
using frames for the nav bar, add common tags to all pages such as CSS 
includes, generate parts of the page programmatically, etc.

I have sites using GTML and WPP for this:


Unfortunately, both are basically abandonware now.  I keep using them 
because they still work, but if I were starting a new site design, I'd 
first look for better-maintained tools.

One option would be to build something similar in R.  A simple 
templating system might only take a few thousand LOC.  R is flexible 
enough that the page source could be R code.  Something like this:

	foo <- 'bits'
	page <- ('
	<p>Page body text goes here.</p>

	<p>Some [[foo]] of the page can be replaced, or you can
	call functions to calculate bits, such as to insert the
	current date: [[R(date())]]</p>
	rhtml::generate(page, navbar = 'templates/navbar.R',
		header = 'templates/header.R')

Call the script index.R, run it, and get index.html as output.

A side benefit is that you could generate inline graphics with R.  This 
would fix the antialiasing problem brought up above: as better graphics 
drawing code gets put into R, just rebuild the web site on a machine 
with the current version of R.

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