[ESS] Little troubles with Emacs for Windows and ESS

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 23 01:11:36 CET 2010

I'm running Vincent Goulet's Emacs enhances, which now has Emacs 23.1
and ESS 5.7.1.  Today I've installed that with R on several windows
systems, some XP, some Vista, some Win7.

On all of these systems, I have had the problem that, if you change
the default install path for R from C:\Program Files to some place
else (I prefer C:\ProgramFiles), then Emacs-ESS can't find Rterm.exe
and you have to edit the ess-site.el file (and delete ess-site.elc).
That happens even after we run the registry updater for Emacs.  That's
just a little inconvenience we can work around. After a few
go-arounds, I decided to stop telling people they can customize the
path. I removed R and Emacs, installed both without changing any
paths, and voila, and Emacs found Rterm every time.

But there are some functionality problems that seem severe.  First,
Emacs cannot create a new file if you choose File->visit new file.  It
is maddening. It will allow File -> save as, but no visit new file.

The other problems  are 'window manager' related problems.  For
example, start Emacs with an R file, start the R session, and go into
the R session and type "install.packages("gdata")"  R responds "select
repository" but the repository selector does not pop up.  It doesn't
give the tcl/tk chooser thing, and it doesn't give the old fashioned
text list of repos.  On the other hand, if you run R interactively
through Rgui, then install.packages does work.

Finally, while in Emacs, if you send a plot command to R, on SOME
systems, the new Graph window opens BELOW the other windows.

I'm going to have to back away from Emacs for these Windows users.  I
don't know what else to tell them they ought to use... :(

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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