[ESS] help files with R

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Tue Aug 2 17:36:48 CEST 2005

>>>>> "StEgl" == Stephen Eglen <S.J.Eglen at damtp.cam.ac.uk>
>>>>>     on Tue, 2 Aug 2005 15:52:22 +0100 writes:

    StEgl> Sundar Dorai-Raj writes:
    >> Hi,
    >> This one has got me stumped, but I believe it's an ESS issue. Try the 
    >> following:
    >> 1. Start R
    >> M-x R
    >> 2. create the following function
    >> consolidateHelp <- function(package = NULL) { package }
    >> 3. execute the function
    >> > consolidateHelp("lm")
    >> This opens a new frame with the help file for ?lm.
    >> 4. Now change the name to
    >> helpConsolidate <- function(package = NULL) { package }
    >> 5. execute the function
    >> > consolidateHelp("lm")
    >> [1] "lm"
    >> The consildateHelp function creates the following two lines in the ESS 
    >> buffer:
    >> (ess-setq-vars-LOCAL): language=S, dialect=R, buf=nil, 
    >> comint..echoes=nil, comint..sender=comint-simple-send
    >> (ess-help-bogus-buffer-p *help[R](lm)*) |--> nil [searching t]
    >> Any clues?
    >> version info:
    >> R-2.1.1pat
    >> Windows XP
    >> ess 5.2.8
    >> Xemacs 21.4 (patch 13)
    >> I also tested this on Linux using ess 5.2.4 (haven't upgraded yet) with 
    >> the same problem. Also, this is not an issue in either rterm or rgui.
    >> BTW, for now, I'll just change the name of the function.

    StEgl> I think what you are seeing is a side effect of our efforts to catch

    StEgl> ?lm

    StEgl> so that if a user types that at the command line within an *R* buffer,
    StEgl> the help frame is shown.

    StEgl> ;;> <PD writes>:
    StEgl> ;;> Also, invoking help() from the command line may lead to confusing
    StEgl> ;;> output, somewhat worse with R than with S. You're not really supposed
    StEgl> ;;> to do that (use C-c C-v to invoke ess-display-help-on-object), but it's
    StEgl> ;;> an obvious newcomer's mistake.
    StEgl> ;;>
    StEgl> ;;> (I wonder: could the elisp-code not quite easily recognize help
    StEgl> ;;> calls (at least in the ?xxx form) and do the right thing automagically?)
    StEgl> ;;>
    StEgl> ;;> As promised, here is a quick hack:
    StEgl> ;;  ___hack much improved by MM___ , both help(.) and ?... now work
    StEgl> ;; FIXME: Note that  '??' nicely works in *R*, but
    StEgl> ;;        'type ? topic' doesn't use ess-help {but display in *R*}
    StEgl> (defconst inferior-R-1-input-help (format "help *(%s)" ess-help-arg-regexp))
    StEgl> (defconst inferior-R-2-input-help (format "^ *\\? *%s" ess-help-arg-regexp))
    StEgl> (defconst inferior-R-page         (format "^ *page *(%s)" ess-help-arg-regexp))

    StEgl> So, maybe the first regexp could be tightened to match help only at a
    StEgl> start boundary (Martin - is that something like \bhelp ?)

yes, "\\bhelp" or "\\<help"  [\b = word boundary; 
			      \< and \> = one-sided word boundary ]
but I think we should use   
    "^ *help *(%s)" 
in the *-R-1-* line above.

Though I'm wondering if there wasn't a good reason why "^ "
wasn't used for "help(.)" when it  *was* expressively used for
'?' and 'page()' ...


More information about the ESS-help mailing list