[Rd] RFC: What should ?foo do?
murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Fri Apr 25 16:44:53 CEST 2008
On 4/25/2008 10:16 AM, Robert Gentleman wrote:
> Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> Currently ?foo does help("foo"), which looks for a man page with alias
>> foo. If foo happens to be a function call, it will do a bit more, so
>> will find the mean method for something if mean happens to be an S4
>> generic. There are also the type?foo variations, e.g. methods?foo, or
>> I think these are all too limited.
>> The easiest search should be the most permissive. Users should need to
>> do extra work to limit their search to man pages, with exact matches, as
>> ? does.
> While I like the idea, I don't really agree with the sentiment above.
> I think that the easiest search should be the one that you want the
> result of most often.
> And at least for me that is the man page for the function, so I can
> check some detail; and it works pretty well. I use site searches much
> less frequently and would be happy to type more for them.
What's your feeling about what should happen when ?foo fails?
>> We don't currently have a general purpose search for "foo", or something
>> like it. We come close with RSiteSearch, and so possibly ?foo should
>> mean RSiteSearch("foo"), but
>> there are problems with that: it can't limit itself to the current
>> version of R, and it doesn't work when you're offline (or when
>> search.r-project.org is down.) We also have help.search("foo"), but it
>> is too limited. I'd like to have a local search that looks through the
>> man pages, manuals, FAQs, vignettes, DESCRIPTION files, etc., specific
>> to the current R installation, and I think ? should be attached to that
> I think that would be very useful (although there will be some
> decisions on which tool to use to achieve this). But, it will also be
> problematic, as one will get tons of hits for some things, and then
> selecting the one you really want will be a pain.
> I would rather see that be one of the dyadic forms, say
> one could even imagine refining that for different subsets of the docs
> you have mentioned;
> help?foo #only man pages
> guides?foo #the manuals, R Extensions etc
> and so on.
> You did not, make a suggestion as to how we would get the equivalent
> of ?foo now, if a decision to move were taken.
I didn't say, but I would assume there would be a way to do it, and it
shouldn't be hard to invoke. Maybe help?foo as you suggested, or man?foo.
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