[R] Re: Future directions of R for Windows?

Jose Ramon G. Albert toots at info.com.ph
Fri Apr 16 15:34:26 CEST 1999

Dear Prof Ripley:

Prof Brian Ripley wrote:

> We would like your comments on the following ideas.
>    o   Use a standard MDI interface like MS Office's, say. Would you
>        prefer an MDI interface to the current one, and if so is the
>        `standard' `look and feel' important?

MDI seems much better (at least if we are to sell this to people who
are used to MS Office).  I have been asked already here in the
Philippines during several lectures I have given whether R
can read Excel files w/c are "popular" here since Excel
othe Windows application come
with our computers for free.

>    o   Replace the help system by standard Windows help files. Would
>        you like this instead of text help, html help or both?

I prefer both, but people I come across may be used to standard Windows
help files.

>    o   rw0640 implements offline printing via latex.  Do you anticipate
>        using this?  (It needs lots of extra files.)  Would printing from
>        a Windows help file be an adequate replacement?

Not in the Philippines.

>    o   Build an R dll that can be linked into other applications to drive
>        effectively an R command-line by passing input strings. Possibly
>        versions without and without on-screen graphics.

This seems to b e a great idea.

>    o   Implement inter-process communications, either
>        -  Windows-style (DDE and ActiveX automation) or
>        -  CORBA-style  (real standards)
>        This might allow R to be called from a spreadsheet or Visual Basic
>        front-end, for example.


>    o   Would you prefer an installer as well as / instead of the
>        current set of smallish zip files?

Yes.  Some people don't know what zip files are, and I have had
to take time introducing zip files first.   But then again, if the
files are too large then we might have difficulty providing
copies of R for free to researchers.

>    o   How important is it that R can be built from source with free
>        tools?  (We are not contemplating requiring any new tools to
>        install packages, but a Windows-standard interface probably
>        requires a commercial compiler with MFC.)

Many people I have introduced R to here in the Philippines have
been very, very impressed w/ what R can do.  But they find it very
hard to do the programming (and memorizing the syntax).
Many are just beginning at learning programming here (even
within the world of statistical practictioners).   We would very
much appreciate having a menu driven option similar for instance
to what I have seen in CODA.  Even just a crude kind of library
maybe.  Actually, some of us at the govt agency I work for --
the Statistical Research and Training Center -- are contemplating
the viability of working on developing a library w/c provides
menus at least for the benefit of those who are not very
computer literate and who may just want to enter data and
get some simple statistical analysis.

Jose Ramon Albert

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