[R] The hidden costs of GPL software?

Mike Prager Mike.Prager at noaa.gov
Wed Nov 17 21:55:11 CET 2004

This has been an interesting discussion. I make the following comment with 
hesitation, since I have neither the time nor the ability to implement it 

Using CLI software, an infrequent user has trouble remembering the known 
functions needed and trouble finding new ones (especially as that user gets 
older).  What might help is an added help facility more oriented towards 
tasks, rather than structured around functions or packages.

Such a help facility might have a tree structure.

Want help?  Are you looking for information on (1) data manipulation or (2) 
analysis?  If (1), do you want to to (3) import or export data, (4) 
transform data, (5) reshape data, or (6) select data?  If (2), do you want 
to (7) fit a model or (8) make a graph?  And so on....

Once appropriate function(s) are located, the user would be directed (by 
hyperlinks) to the existing help framework.

That could help the problem of knowing what you want to do, but not what it 
is called.  I think that "Introductory Statistics with R" is a step in that 
direction for the basics, as MASS is for more complex matters.  The 
question is whether such material can be incorporated into a help system 
that will allow users to find, more easily, what they need.  That largely 
depends, it seems to me, on a great deal of work by volunteers.

I agree also with the suggestion that a dedicated editor (or add-in) that 
could supply arguments for functions might be considerable help.


Michael Prager, Ph.D.
Population Dynamics Team, NMFS SE Fisheries Science Center
NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research
Beaufort, North Carolina  28516

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