[ESS] Problem installing ESS - I don't understand the instructions

PBK Research peter at pbkresearch.co.uk
Thu Oct 1 23:58:46 CEST 2009

Hi Rodney

Many thanks for your help. After sending this query, I had a reply saying
that it had not been passed on because the moderator had to approve it. So I
carried on looking, and (from something on Vincent Goulet's site, I think) I
found that .emacs is an initialization file. So I dug into Emacs, found an
initialization page, and forced it to save the current setup. I then found
that .emacs now existed (in my personal Application Data folder), and
amended it as directed. So I now have ESS working, and am trying to find the
most convenient way to use it for my project. Problem solved, therefore, but
no doubt more to come! Still, it all helps to keep the little grey cells

Thanks again

Peter Kenny 

-----Original Message-----
From: Rodney Sparapani [mailto:rsparapa at mcw.edu] 
Sent: 01 October 2009 22:34
To: PBK Research
Cc: ess-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
Subject: Re: Problem installing ESS - I don't understand the instructions

PBK Research wrote:

> 2. Add the line
> (require 'ess-site)
> to `~/.emacs' and restart Emacs.
> My problem is that I don't know what `~/.emacs' refers to. I have 
> searched the whole of my hard disk for a file with the extension 
> .emacs, or for any file containing the text 'emacs', without success. The
fact that `~/.emacs'
> includes the slash, rather than the backslash, makes me wonder whether 
> this instruction belongs in the Unix installation instructions (where 
> exactly the same words are found) and there should be something different
for Windows.
> Could you please tell me where to find `~/.emacs' on my system?
> Many thanks
> Peter Kenny

Hi Peter:

The instructions assume that the user is familiar with Emacs or XEmacs.
When referring to either, I write emacs.  I don't expect many non-emacs
users to decide to install ESS on a whim.  In emacs, when you open the file
~/.emacs it opens/creates this file in your HOME directory (which is what ~/
stands for).  HOME is defined by the HOME environment variable on UNIX.  On
Windows, it defaults to "c:/Documents and Settings/%USERNAME%/Application
Data" for Emacs if not over-ridden by the environment variable (XEmacs has
no default and requires the environment variable to be set and the file is
Therefore, the forward slash has nothing to do with Windows vs. UNIX per se;
rather it is an emacs-ism.  Using backslashes as the directory separator
character in emacs, will work in many circumstances, but they may fail in
others so they should be avoided on Windows.

Rodney Sparapani      Center for Patient Care & Outcomes Research (PCOR)
Sr. Biostatistician              http://www.mcw.edu/pcor
4 wheels good, 2 wheels better!  Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)
WWLD?:  What Would Lombardi Do?  Milwaukee, WI, USA

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