[ESS] several R versions

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Thu Sep 1 10:07:55 CEST 2005

>>>>> "Kasper" == Kasper Daniel Hansen <khansen at stat.berkeley.edu>
>>>>>     on Wed, 31 Aug 2005 15:42:36 -0700 writes:

    Kasper> Hi Stephen On Aug 31, 2005, at 12:00 PM, Stephen
    Kasper> Eglen wrote:

    >>  hi Kasper, Kasper Daniel Hansen writes:
    >>> Hi
    >>> I am currently using R with ESS v5.2.9 under Mac OS X
    >>> using Carbon Emacs (Emacs v.
    >>> I have started to use two different R versions. The
    >>> standard stable release is called using R in the
    >>> shell. Then I have the development version which I start
    >>> using R-devel (this is a symlink in /usr/local/ bin).
    >>> I would like to use both versions in Emacs, eg. doing
    >>> something like (all this exact form is not really
    >>> relevant) M-x R and M-x R-devel
    >>> I assume that it is quite easy to do so, but how?
    >>  not trivial, but close; here is an excerpt from the
    >> documentation:
    >> R on Unix systems: If you have "R-1.8.1" on your
    >> `exec-path', it can be started using `M-x R-1.8.1'.  By
    >> default, ESS will find versions of R beginning "R-1" or
    >> "R-2".  If your versions of R are called other names,
    >> consider renaming them with a symbolic link or change the
    >> variable `ess-r-versions'.  To see which defuns have been
    >> created for starting different versions of R, type `M-x
    >> R-' and then hit [Tab].  You will then see if any defuns
    >> for particular versions of R have been created.  These
    >> other versions of R can also be started from the
    >> "ESS->Start Process->Other" menu.
    >> so, in the first instance, if you make a symlink in your
    >> exec-path (i.e. your regular PATH) of say R-2.2 to point
    >> to whatever R-devel
    >> then when you restart Emacs, hopefully M-x R-2.2 will
    >> work.
    >> If your binary is called R-devel You might get some joy
    >> changing ess-r-versions to something like '("R-2"
    >> "R-devel")
    >> let us know how it goes!

    Kasper> Sorry for not searching the documentation better.

    Kasper> Using a symbolic link from /usr/local/bin/R-2.2.0 to
    Kasper> the devl version works. Adding "R-devel" to the
    Kasper> ess-r-versions do not. I assume it is because it
    Kasper> searches for XXX.y.z with XXX being the
    Kasper> ess-r-versions and y and z being integers (this is
    Kasper> just a guess though). I have used the customize
    Kasper> stuff to set the varible, the relevant parts are

    Kasper> (custom-set-variables ;; custom-set-variables was
    Kasper> added by Custom.  ;; If you edit it by hand, you
    Kasper> could mess it up, so be careful.  ;; Your init file
    Kasper> should contain only one such instance.  ;; If there
    Kasper> is more than one, they won't work right.
    Kasper> '(ess-r-versions (quote ("R-1" "R-2" "R-devel")))

    Kasper> (closing parantheses are left out, I just did a
    Kasper> cut'n'paste.

    Kasper> It would be nice not have have to put in a new
    Kasper> symlink whenever I upgrade R (ok I guess I could
    Kasper> just use R-1.0.0 and "know" that this is the devel
    Kasper> version). And I know that some people need to keep a
    Kasper> stable as well as a devel version around (especially
    Kasper> since access to the devel arm of BioC requires a
    Kasper> devel version of R). However, I am not sure if this
    Kasper> is something worth including.

Well, I should agree with Kasper here,
I've defined my own version of  'M-x R-devel' about 6 years ago...
long before there were ess-r-versions around.

Kasper, for the moment, add the following to your ~/.emacs (or

(defun R-devel (&optional start-args)
  "Call the development version of R (using ESS)."
  (interactive "P") (let ((inferior-R-program-name "R-devel")) (R start-args)))

;; (let ..) defines variables local to its scope, very similar 
;; to  R's  local(..)  construct.

I hope one of us will find the time to make this work along the
same line as "ess-r-versions" i.e., M-x R-devel will work automagically
**WHEN** an "R-devel" is in your path.


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