[R] A Few Suggestions to help out newbies
laurent at genome.cbs.dtu.dk
Tue Apr 2 16:10:56 CEST 2002
On Tue, Apr 02, 2002 at 03:28:13AM -0800, Zed Shaw wrote:
> Hey Folks,
> I may have some suggestions for you, based on my experience as a newbie
> with R. Implementing these very simple resources would be fairly easy
> to do and would give volumes of help in return:
> 1) An R Cookbook section of the site where people can submit pieces of
> interesting code that satisfies a need. This would be similar to the
> Perl/Python/Java Cookbook texts that O'Reilly puts out, but with a more
> dynamic activity. The python folks have something like this, and people
> love it. I learned a lot of python this way.
You may try get in contact with the author of the following web document
> 2) A Series of Documents helping people translate from another package
> to R. For example, "R for SPSS People", "R for SAS People", etc.
> 3) A dynamic FAQ, placed prominently on the front page, ready for
> people to access and search. The idea is that, as you encounter these
> dumb questions, you can slap up another faq question about it. When it
> is asked again, don't bother replying, just *politely* say, "go to
> http://www.r-project.com/somefaqquestion/". That saves everyone
> headaches, and encapsulates the knowledge on the list. If it were setup
> right, it could be searchable through R.
Several FAQs are accessible at
Personally I never remember how to download r-devel using rsync. I am going
to the 'R FAQ' then I am using the 'text search feature' of my web browser
(Alt+F, Ctr+F, or / in my case) and I find the answer.
Do not mistake a concise answer for an impolite answer. Busy people
sometimes allow themselfves to skip some of the formalities.
> 4) Better web site layout. It is hard to read the manuals if you can't
> find them.
?! I have a menu item 'Manuals' when I go to http://www.r-project.org/
(on the left, third from the top in the 'Documentation' section)
> 5) Better search for the site. It would be nice if you used google on
> the site, but even htdig setup properly would help.
'www.google.com' aficionados may try the string 'site:www.r-project.org'
in their queryi for example.
> 6) Better layout of packages listed on CRAN. This listing format will
> collapse under its own weight once it gets too large.
Memory has become more expensive over the last few months but displaying a
html document that weights even few hundred kilobytes remains a reasonable
assumption (the document is currently 164 kb).
> 7) Create the "Encyclopedia of Statstics" online. I would kill for a
> repository of all the "trade secrets" of statistics, related to R. For
> example: a brief discussion of the merits of factor analysis,
> considering its heritage with IQ tests. Or, "The History of Student".
> If this were organized right, it would even be possible to access it
> from R itself and provide people with help with the statistics part of
> using R (which is probably the most difficult portion).
I remembered being a happy user of statlib
> And, related to R:
> 8) Command completion and contextual help in R. The first one is
> probably fairly easy. The second one is probably impossible. It would
> involve giving out detailed help messages when things go wrong. Not
> sure how to do that.
I am not certain about how 'easy' is the first, but I am surely happy a
brave soul did it (I am an humble user, I am not sure I could have done it).
Did you check ESS ?
(accessible through the menu 'Other' at www.r-project.org).
If you are not sure about how to accomplish what you believe being
> 9) Finally, my personal pet peeve of R: tell me the line number of
> errors. It's nearly impossible to fix a broken function when I don't
> know where it is broken.
I usually reach the faulty part in my function within an acceptable time.
Did you try
> Anyway, those are just a few suggestions. You'll notice that there is a
> common thread through all of them: record the knowledge somewhere, make
> it easy to find. I think doing at least some of these things would
> improve support for R, and make it fairly famous (especially if the
> statistics encyclopedia worked out).
> Zed A. Shaw
Hopin' it helps,
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