[R] What is the best way to have "R" output tables in an MS Word format? (shaping R core)

chrishold at psyctc.org chrishold at psyctc.org
Thu May 6 20:42:25 CEST 2010

I've changed the subject line a bit here as Max is asking such a
fundamental question.

Max Kuhn sent the following  at 01/05/2010 19:22:
> Chris,

> Why is it R Core's job to fulfill your wants and desires? I have a
> hard time thinking that very busy people would spend extra time doing
> something that they may or may not have a direct need for. Write it
> yourself or get a group of people together to do it. That what we did
> with odfWeave (for better or worse). If the task is beyond what you
> feel you can do, fund it.

Ouch.  OK. I'm hugely grateful for your work on odfWeave Max and sorry
that Open Office isn't a solution for me at the moment.  However, I
don't think I'm being unreasonable or selfish.

1) Certainbly it's not R core's job to fulfil my wants and desires and
they will have ways to discuss what would strengthen R for lots of us.
Clearly I can submit a wishlist item to the R bugzilla and I should but
that's very particulate: how can the team find out of wishes are common
or would help increase use of R?

There are files of key R core team members' wish lists on the R site but
almost none relate in any way to output and some appear to be years old.
I've worked with R (about 14 years I think) and as I look particularly
at the recent release notes, I see a lot of work went into changing the
help system which is one sort of output from R and a huge amount of work
went into transitions in the object orientation (S3 to S4).  I think
that what I am suggesting is about a core issue of seeing
a set of object properties for numeric output as including insertion of
tabs, ideally as providing flexible presenting and viewing of all
matrices, data frames and lists, and, some day, cross linkage of
graphics into output.  Ideally, as with the capacity of R to export its
graphics in a number of formats, I'd love to see this capitalising on
the work you have done for ODF and others have done for TeX etc.

These strike me as central object handling issues, not things that
should for ever be offloaded to the libraries/packages.

2) Do it myself: I wish!  I'm a terrible programmer and work 50-70 hours
a week in my main jobs (I'm so outspoken here at the moment partly
because I'm off work post-op.)  I'm quite a good psychotherapist and
capable of working in several different modes of psychotherapy and with
individuals, couples, groups and families and I'm a fairly competent
researcher and clinical director.  I wish I'd been born or learned to be
a better programmer as I wish I'd been more musical and able to dance
but I'm not.  I can contribute ideas, help debug things and hope to
contribute much more of this when I retire from the main jobs.  I have
no links with programmers at work nor in my university location so I
have no colleagues with whom I can form a team to do this.

3) Pay for it myself: I was pretty ignorant about ways of paying for
R things.  I can't see me persuading my NHS employer to pay as we're
contracting rapidly and don't officially use R.  If we had the
outputting I'm describing in the R core I think I might be able to get
us to stop paying some thousands of pounds a year for SPSS and might be
able to shift say 1k in gratitude to R though NHS purchasing rules don't
make that easy.  (That, I think, is one of the huge challenges to open
source s'ware, if someone can tell me about ways to get organisations
who have to justify their purchasing as we do manage to pay for open
source development, I'd like to hear and I'll try to make it happen.)

Prompted by your Email I have found the R project membership form and
'faxed it off with payment and will probably donate some more on top of
that 25 euros.  However, I would love a way to make a donation
that would encourage someone to do this bit of work but I'm currently
unlikely, personally, to have the money to pay for all that's needed.

Hope this helps explain my position.  I'm genuinely keen to hear others'
views.  Very best to all,


Chris Evans <chris at psyctc.org> Skype: chris-psyctc
Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Notts. PDD network;
Trust Research Governance Lead and Clinical Director, Psychological
  Therapies Directorate in Local Services, Nottinghamshire NHS Trust;
Professor, Psychotherapy, Nottingham University
*If I am writing from one of those roles, it will be clear. Otherwise*
*my views are my own and not representative of those institutions    *
If you have difficulty Emailing me on this address or getting a reply,
send again but cc to:       chris dot evans at nottshc dot nhs dot uk
and to:                     c dot evans at nottingham dot ac dot uk

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