[R] How to search for packages - wrap up!

Neil Shephard nshephard at gmail.com
Wed Feb 6 13:56:53 CET 2008

I'm not sure that this would make any difference to someone considering using R.

Would they know what CRAN stands for? Probably not unless they've used
CPAN or equivalent in the past.

Would they know what a 'Task View' is? Again probably not as its not
patently obvious what it is, it doesn't "click" (at least not to my
mind if I take a step back from already knowing what a Task View is).

I think the current set up with mirrors is fine, it only takes a few
seconds to click on a mirror and find that it takes you to a page that
isn't simply for downloading software.

Discussions of how the R web-site can be improved/altered seem to crop
up periodically on the list.  At the end of the day someone (who?) has
to make the changes to the site.  R developers already sacrifice their
own time to improving the software.  If you want to see changes, then
volunteer to (I presume) the R-core team and enter into dialogue with


On Feb 6, 2008 12:02 PM, Charilaos Skiadas <cskiadas at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Feb 6, 2008, at 6:23 AM, Neil Shephard wrote:
> > Charilaos Skiadas-3 wrote:
> >>
> >> On Feb 5, 2008, at 10:37 AM, Monica Pisica wrote:
> >>
> >> But perhaps I am missing something very obvious?
> >
> > I thought the task views were located where they are (linked from
> > the page
> > that lists packages) as they summarise the available packages for
> > the given
> > topic.
> That would make sense, and brings up the other point, that the
> package directory is nontrivial to find as well. I'm thinking here of
> someone who has not used R yet, but is considering it. One approach
> those people would take, it seems to me, is to go to the main page
> and look around at the links to see if there is any information that
> would help them decide if R is right for what they want it. They have
> not heard of packages, and have no idea that a lot of the
> functionality is in the packages.
> So they would look on the list on the left looking for something that
> "clicks", and none of the items there would. If they eventually
> decide to click on the CRAN link,  they are now faced with a long
> list of mirrors, and no further explanation of what is behind that.
> If they have seen mirror systems elsewhere, they would immediately
> come to the conclusion that this page will simply lead to downloading
> the software, and dismiss it as not useful.
> Just reading Gavin's reply, and he makes a good point about the
> difficulties related to the CRAN master. But couldn't we simply have
> the links to packages from the task views send someone through the
> mirror list? I would imagine something like that should be doable.
> Or we could simply have the "Task Views" link on the main page send
> you to a mirrors list, with perhaps a one-line explanation on the top
> of why this part is necessary. But at least at that point the user
> has selected "Task Views" and is more certain that they are on the
> right track. Even better, this step could be even one step deeper,
> after the user has selected which task view they want to see.
> > Neil
> Haris Skiadas
> Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
> Hanover College

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Email - nshephard at gmail.com / n.shephard at sheffield.ac.uk
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