[R] A comment about R:

Philippe Grosjean phgrosjean at sciviews.org
Tue Jan 3 11:31:42 CET 2006


Yes, indeed, you are perfectly right. The problem is that R richness 
means R complexity: many different data types, "sub-languages" like 
regexp or the formula interface, S3/S4 objects, classical versus lattice 
(versus RGL versus iplots) graphs, etc. During translation of R in 
French, I was thinking of a subset of one or two hundreds of functions 
that would be enough for beginners to start with, and to propose a 
translation of that small subset of the online help in French. This is 
still on my todo list, but I must admit it is not an easy task to decide 
which function should be kept in the subset and which should not!

In fact, that idea could be, perhaps, generalized into the whole online 
help. It would be sufficient to add a flag somewhere (perhaps a keyword) 
telling that page is fundamental and to allow filtering index and pages 
  ("fundamental only" or "full help"). Even for advanced users, it 
should be nice to have such a filter to display only the two or three 
most important functions in a new packages that proposes perhaps hundred 
online help pages...

Using R Commander is also an interesting experiment. R Commander 
simplifies the use of R down to the manipulation of a single data frame 
(the so-called "active dataset") + optionally one or two model objects. 
Just look at all you can do just with one active data frame with R 
Commander, and you will realize that it is perfectly manageable to learn 
R that way.


Philippe Grosjean

Rau, Roland wrote:
>  > -----Original Message-----
>>From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch 
>>[mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Gabor 
>>Sent: Monday, January 02, 2006 4:59 PM
>>To: Philippe Grosjean
>>Cc: Kort, Eric; Kjetil Halvorsen; R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
>>Subject: Re: [R] A comment about R:
>>Probably what is needed is for someone familiar with both Stata and R
>>to create a lexicon in the vein of the Octave to R lexicon
>>   http://cran.r-project.org/doc/contrib/R-and-octave-2.txt
>>to make it easier for Stata users to understand R.  Ditto for 
>>SAS and SPSS.
> IMO this is a very good proposal but I think that the main problem is
> not the "translation" of one function in SPSS/Stata/SAS to the
> equivalent in R.
> Remembering my first contact with R after using SPSS for some years (and
> having some experience with Stata and SAS) was that your mental
> framework is different. You think in "SPSS-terms" (i.e. you expect that
> data are automatically a rectangular matrix, functions operate on
> columns of this matrix, you have always only one dataset available,
> ...). This is why "jumping" from SPSS to Stata is relatively easy. But
> to jump from any of the three to R is much more difficult. 
> This mental barrier is also the main obstacle for me now when I try to
> encourage the use of R to other people who have a similar background as
> I had.
> What can be done about it? I guess the only answer is investing time
> from the user which implies that R will probably never become the
> language of choice for "casual users". But popularity is probably not
> the main goal of the R-Project (it would be rather a nice side-effect).
> Just a few thoughts ...
> Best,
> Roland
> +++++
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