[R] GUI's for teaching

Marc Schwartz mschwartz at medanalytics.com
Thu Jun 27 18:33:51 CEST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
[mailto:owner-r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch] On
> Behalf Of Mark Myatt
> Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 8:19 AM
> To: R Help
> Subject: Re: [R] GUI's for teaching
> I just thought that I would add my tuppence on this ... what I would
> really like for R is not a GUI in the sense of a point and click data
> analysis system (R is too rich for anything like that too scratch the
> surface) or interactive graphics (I like to script them) but a full
> featured IDE with:
>         1. A syntax highlighting editor
>         2. Code completion features such as automatic insertion of
>         function templates.
>         3. An ability to submit a file of R commands and capture the
>         output in an output window.
>         4. Capturing of errors in code integrated with editor. Some
>         of debugging / error tracking / stack tracing would be nice.
>         5. An object inspector showing the objects available in the
>         working environment ... it would be nice (e.g.) to be able to
>         click on a data.frame reference and see column names, classes,
>         &c. And to be able to paste these into the editor.
>         6. Basic project management functions.
>         7. Help system and language guide integrated.

FWIW, there are tools around that will do at least some of what you wish
to do.  There are packages such as ESS/Emacs, WinEdit, WinEdt (note the
difference) and other programmer's editors that handle things like
syntax highlighting, template expansion and the like.

In my case, I am using Multi-Edit 9 under WinXP Pro. I have been using
Multi-Edit for years (since the DOS days....) for both coding and some
text manipulation.  I have templates (ie. bracket/brace/paren pairs and
code structure matching macros) set up for R for some of the more common
expressions, color syntax highlighting and so forth.  Multi-Edit also
supports some Project Management features.

I have also set up a keyword lookup link to the R .CHM help files, so
that when I place the cursor in a keyword and hit Ctrl-F1, the
appropriate R help file is opened with the keyword placed in the .CHM
index lookup field. I have not yet tried any DDE based interaction
between the two packages (ie. highlight and execute code or display
returned output) mainly due to lack of time.

If you look at http://cran.r-project.org/other-software.html, you will
note under Editing Support that there are very good editing packages
configured to work with R that will provide even more functionality than
what I have in place, but given my investment (time and money) in
Multi-Edit, I'll likely stay with it for now. 

If I had to switch, I would look to WinEdt, since it seems to be similar
in look and feel to Multi-Edit and Uwe Ligges has spent much time to
provide the R-WinEdt support files. I don't do any TeX work at this
point, which seems to be one of the strengths of WinEdt, so if you do
that may be something to consider. I have downloaded the demo of WinEdt
and when time permits will experiment with it.



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