[R] formatted output facilities ... was ..Oddity with internet access and R 11.0 - solved

chrishold at psyctc.org chrishold at psyctc.org
Sat Apr 24 20:33:34 CEST 2010

David Winsemius sent the following  at 24/04/2010 18:24:
>> Now that I'm here, courtesy of my time slip, what I'd really love to see
>> in R 10.0.0, or even 2.12.0, is the choice to have output either in the
>> current plain text or to some simple formatting primitives that would
>> have default tabs & tables for matrices etc. and allow embedded
>> graphics.  I'd love to be able to opt to save that as HTML, XML, TeX,
>> RTF, ODF wihthout the complexities of Sweave, ODFWeave, R2HTML etc.
>> I know the complexities of Sweave etc. are child's play to numerically
>> and computer gifted people such as yourself Professor, and the R core
>> team, but for those of us who proselytise for R to mere psychologists,
>> doctors, psychotherapists etc., that complexity is hard and the hassles
>> of reformatting text to nice tables etc. discourages people from coming
>> across from SPSS I know.
> -- 
>> require(xtable)
> Loading required package: xtable
>> ?xtable
> -- 
> David (a mere doctor).

Not "mere" to me David.

Yes, I know xtable and use it a bit, well, quite a lot when I was
writing R things for cgi use on the web.  I'm sure it's evolved (quick
check suggests it has and great to see that aov, lm etc. are all
covered).  However, it really does underline my point: you have to know
it exists, you have to load it, then what you get on screen is either
TeX or HTML formatted things and it doesn't embed graphics.  As I
generally (boo hiss) have to get things to end up in Word documents it
means I have to save to HTML and import from there.

I did also work a bit with ODFweave and really liked it but kept hitting
problems and found the extra layer between me and debugging my very bad
R coding meant that I didn't really make the leap from using ESS & R and
raw output.  Not helped by work restrictions ensuring I couldn't really
make the leap from Word to Open Office but the main problems were more
of a feeling of more layers between me and R.  I've got used to ESS and
love it but that leaves me stuck with these output reformatting challenges.

Xtable is wonderful and surely provides a lot of the functions that I'd
love to see embedded into the R core.  If we get into my R tardis, and
go to R 10.0.0, or could it only be R 2.13.0 say, those things would
support an option to stream R output into lightly formatted form AND
render and save that.  I'm looking for table handling such as xtable
provides, tabs and embedding of graphics though if that last didn't come
for years, I'd still be happy to have the text formatting and I'd love
to be able to chose saving to at least a couple of ODF, RTF, HTML, Tex.

As well as the code in xtable, I'm sure other resources are in ODFweave,
Sweave that would help this.  I know it's a significant programming
challenge to do that, particularly in a program that so brilliantly
embraces so many different platforms.

One of my guesses is that just allowing addition of tabs into the
routine R output and encouraging us all to start using them, would be a
huge step forward.



P.S. I'm cc'g to r-core as this is really a plea to the core team.
Sorry if that's a breach of R etiquette.

Chris Evans <chris at psyctc.org> Skype: chris-psyctc
Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Notts. PDD network;
Trust Research Governance Lead and Clinical Director, Psychological
  Therapies Directorate in Local Services, Nottinghamshire NHS Trust;
Professor, Psychotherapy, Nottingham University
*If I am writing from one of those roles, it will be clear. Otherwise*
*my views are my own and not representative of those institutions    *
If you have difficulty Emailing me on this address or getting a reply,
send again but cc to:       chris dot evans at nottshc dot nhs dot uk
and to:                     c dot evans at nottingham dot ac dot uk

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