[R] Problems in Recommending R

friedrich.leisch at stat.uni-muenchen.de friedrich.leisch at stat.uni-muenchen.de
Wed Feb 4 19:14:51 CET 2009

>>>>> On Tue, 03 Feb 2009 07:00:54 -0700,
>>>>> Warren Young (WY) wrote:

  > friedrich.leisch at stat.uni-muenchen.de wrote:
  >> For technical reasons there are some conditions: the homepage is
  >> maintained via SVN like the R sources, so all should be plain HTML, no
  >> content management system etc.

  > Consider using a static templating system, or a higher-level document 
  > language like DocBook's "website" variant; perhaps even Sweave?

  > The idea is, you write your pages in a non-HTML format that gets 
  > compiled to HTML, just like building a program.  Such tools let you do 
  > things like add a common navigation bar to all pages, so you can stop 
  > using frames for the nav bar, add common tags to all pages such as CSS 
  > includes, generate parts of the page programmatically, etc.

  > I have sites using GTML and WPP for this:

  > 	http://sunnyspot.org/wpp/
  > 	http://www2.lifl.fr/~beaufils/gtml/

  > Unfortunately, both are basically abandonware now.  I keep using them 
  > because they still work, but if I were starting a new site design, I'd 
  > first look for better-maintained tools.

  > One option would be to build something similar in R.  A simple 
  > templating system might only take a few thousand LOC.  R is flexible 
  > enough that the page source could be R code.  Something like this:

  > 	#!/usr/bin/Rscript
  > 	require('rhtml')
  > 	foo <- 'bits'
  > 	page <- ('
  > 	<p>Page body text goes here.</p>

  > 	<p>Some [[foo]] of the page can be replaced, or you can
  > 	call functions to calculate bits, such as to insert the
  > 	current date: [[R(date())]]</p>
  > 	')
  > 	rhtml::generate(page, navbar = 'templates/navbar.R',
  > 		header = 'templates/header.R')

  > Call the script index.R, run it, and get index.html as output.

  > A side benefit is that you could generate inline graphics with R.  This 
  > would fix the antialiasing problem brought up above: as better graphics 
  > drawing code gets put into R, just rebuild the web site on a machine 
  > with the current version of R.

That would of course be fine ... I did not say that the HTML needs to
be written manually. What I did say is the the process should be
controllable by text files that are checked into SVN. Of course I am
as happy to say "make" to generate the R homepage as I am to compile R

The basics of the above idea is actually in some minutes of an R core
meeting from years ago, but we never found time to do it.  Which takes
me to an important point I felt when reading the thread: It is very
interesting to see how much energy people invest in writing what they
would like to see done (most likely by others). R is a volunteer
project, it's not like there are people waiting for input from the
mailing list on what to do in there ample free time. Of course the
discussion is important to see what people would like to have ... but
where are the people volunteering to *do* it?  [Mike Lawrence's nice
and very welcome suggestion of the design students being the exception
to the rule]

Being responsible for much of the stuff on our current web page could
make me look like a natural candidate ... but I'd rather spend the
forthcoming semester break on implementing all those Sweave changes I
have been promising for ages rather than redesigning web pages.


PS: Somebody mentioned that the pages scream "1995" ... well you
missed by 2 years, it was actually 1997.

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Leisch 

Institut für Statistik                          Tel: (+49 89) 2180 3165
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität                  Fax: (+49 89) 2180 5308
Ludwigstraße 33
D-80539 München                     http://www.statistik.lmu.de/~leisch
   Journal Computational Statistics --- http://www.springer.com/180 
          Münchner R Kurse --- http://www.statistik.lmu.de/R

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