[R] Wikis etc.

Duncan Murdoch murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Fri Jan 6 15:41:30 CET 2006

On 1/6/2006 9:15 AM, Jonathan Baron wrote:
> On 01/06/06 13:40, John Marsland wrote:
>> Going back to the wiki issue, it might be wise to this about using Trac
>> <http://projects.edgewall.com/trac/> which is an open source project that
>> integrates a wiki with the SVN code versioning system (used by R-project) and a
>> replacement for bugzilla's ticketing system. We use it to document our own code.
>> Trac would have the advantage of pushing questions on the R list back towards
>> the  actual source code and allowing all users to participate in the future
>> development of the software.
> It isn't clear to me what this would be for.  I'm not sure that I
> trust users to modify code.
> I was thinking myself that user input might be most useful for
> the documentation of functions.  Not that this is so bad, but
> rather it might be possible to have an extended system of
> documentation on the web, with FAQ-type questions answered as
> part of the documentation itself, so that people would not have
> to rely on R-help so much (even in its archived forms).
> And I was thinking of setting up a Wiki with one page per
> function.  (Given that there are now hundreds or thousands of
> functions, setting this up would have to be automated.)  I've
> just installed (for another purpose) TWiki, which seems to have
> some nice features for this sort of thing (in particular, data
> stored as text files, hence easily manipulated by other
> programs), but I will not have time to think through how to do
> this for some time.  Just another idea to throw into the hopper.

I think this sounds like a great idea.  I would like to see two way 
connections between this and the existing man pages, e.g. in the HTML or 
PDF versions, links that go directly to the Wiki, and links from the 
Wiki to an online copy of the man pages.

If your automatic setup permitted it, then showing the output of the 
examples on the man pages would be nice.

One issue that you'll need to think about is whether there is one page 
per function, or one page per .Rd file, or some other organization:  and 
you'll need to be prepared for changes in the organization of the 
documentation with new R releases (and changes in function names, and 
changes in the examples...).

Duncan Murdoch

> In principle, another possibility is to do something like the PHP 
> manual at http://www.php.net/manual/en/, which is not a wiki but
> more like a bulletin board, with discussion of each command.  But 
> I think a wiki is better.  I found it time consuming to read
> through all those comments, almost as bad as reading through
> R-help postings. :)
> Jon

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