[ESS] differences in performance of ESS versions (using either XEmacs or Emacs)

Robert M Dorazio bob_dorazio at usgs.gov
Fri Apr 11 13:56:37 CEST 2008

I've used ESS in conjunction with Xemacs on various Windows operating
systems for several years.  I mainly use Xemacs+ESS for R programming and
Xemacs for C++ programming.  Recently, I tried GNU Emacs to compare its
operating characteristics with Xemacs.  As part of the comparison, I
installed the most recent versions of the 3 software packages:

ESS 5.3.7
Xemacs 21.4.21
Emacs 22.2

Emacs has a slightly more contemporary "look and feel", but is otherwise
quite similar to Xemacs.  I like them both.

An expected discovery was that the current version of ESS has several
undesirable operating characteristics compared to the version of ESS that I
had been using (ESS 5.2.12).  For example,

1. The default behavior of ESS 5.3.7 is to echo a buffer's contents to R
when sourcing a function that is opened in the  buffer.  This only occurs
during the first time a function is sourced, but it is annoying.  Is there
a way to avoid this??

2. While sourcing an R function the first time (as described in #1), ESS
5.3.7 is MUCH SLOWER than ESS 5.2.12, even for only moderate sized
functions.  Why is that?  Is there a way to speed things up?

3. When using R2WinBUGS with Emacs+ESS+R, there is a significant delay (a
minute or so!!) in regaining access to the R buffer -- or, for that matter,
to any Emacs buffer -- once WinBUGS is finished and has returned control to
R.   I experience no such delay when using Xemacs+ESS+R.  This is the only
major difference I experienced between Emacs and Xemacs that would seem to
favor the latter when using ESS[R].

I should add that I made no special changes to Xemacs or Emacs other than
the following:

A. For Xemacs, I used John Fox's init.el file to create the R menu.

B. For Emacs, I downloaded Vincent Goulet's bundle of Emacs, ESS, etc.

Any suggestions or comments regarding #1 - #3 above are greatly

Bob Dorazio
Department of Statistics
University of Florida
P.O. Box 110339
Gainesville, FL  32611-0339
Phone:  (352) 392-3081
Web site:  http://ifasstat.ifas.ufl.edu/BDorazio.html

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