[Rd] raster support in graphics devices

Charlotte Maia maiagx at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 01:36:18 CET 2009

On 12/2/09, Simon Urbanek <simon.urbanek at r-project.org> wrote:
> Charlotte,
> I would like to point out that implicitly you have been already using raster
> graphics all the time in very inefficient form in heatmaps etc. The point
> here is not really about added functionality for the user but efficiency,
> because now we can finally use efficient encoding of heatmaps, matrix
> visualizations, overlay data over satellite images etc. Although all this
> was always possible in R, it was very inefficient and caused unwanted side
> effects (see the constant anti-aliasing discussions).
> Cheers,
> Simon

I might be unpopular for saying this, heatmaps are horrible things.
The first time I created a heatmap, I thought this is pretty, I've
since learnt better.

If I wasn't unpopular for saying that, this will certainly make me
unpopular, what is with that image at the top of JSS? There is bad
typesetting, and then there is bad typesetting...

I think many users are getting caught up in creating pretty images,
and the impression I'm getting is that various software (not just R)
is making this easier.
Whenever I'm reading an article and I see a heatmap, I say a few curse
words and then just settle for reading the abstract, and maybe the
first page of the introduction, if I've had a good day...

There are still substantial problems with R's vector graphics,
creating curves and circles for example. On evince, my plots just look
like a bunch of "q"s (not sure whether it's evince's fault or R's
fault). Plus including figures in sweave is relatively difficult in my

Regarding Martins comments on changing the graphics device, I have
noticed some errors in doing so, hence have been (reluctantly)
sticking to cairo. What that saying, if you can't beat them, joint
them... or something like that...

Then there's all those people (have no idea if this is correct or not)
that say creating plots in SAS and Matlab is faster than R.

Overall, I think there is substantial room for improvement both in the
use and implementation of vector graphics, especially static 2D vector
graphics, however trends for implementing  interactive graphics, 3d
graphics, and raster images seem to be getting too much precedence.

In regards to Simon's comments, if we are going to focus on
efficiency, shouldn't we make the useful things efficient first, and
not gett too distracted.

I don't know anything about matrix visualisation, however I'm
sceptical that it is a good idea to take a giant matrix, and map one
element to one pixel, say with colour indexing (essentially just
another heatmap).

Noting my opinions here are in regards to the entire R community
(really the entire statistical community), not just the original post.

Charlotte Maia

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