[R] What is the best way to have "R" output tables in an MS

Frank E Harrell Jr f.harrell at Vanderbilt.Edu
Fri May 7 01:44:50 CEST 2010

Ted I can't resist offering my $.02, which is that I'm puzzled why 
LaTeX, being free, flexible, and powerful, is used only by millions of 
people and not tens of millions.


On 05/06/2010 03:07 PM, (Ted Harding) wrote:
> Replying to Chris's latest message for the sake of preserving the
> thread, but deleting all of it to save space. Except:
> I had sympathy with Chris's original query, on the grounds that
> it was a good enquiry in principle, essentially pokinting towards
> the problem of incorporating R's formatted output (be it tables,
> graphics, ... ) into document-preparation software, whether it
> be noddy WYSIWYG like Word, or more sophisticated "typesetting"
> software such as TeX, the Adobe stable and other DTP software,
> or even the ancient UNIX troff dinosaur (re-evolved as GNU groff,but
> stil roaming the plains and consuming tough typesetting for breakfast
> just as its ancestor did).
> Given what he said in his latest message, I now have even more
> sympathy. It's not about begging in the streets for someone to
> charitably do the job for him! It's a job that could be a service
> to many, and if it attracts enough enthusiasm from enough of those
> who know how to do it then they will willingly plunge in. That's
> how Free Software works.
> The issue is about the "enough enthusiasm" and the "enough of
> those who know".
> Many (possibly almost all) of the people who have developed R
> are mainly working with TeX/LaTex. R clearly has a well-developed
> interface to that language. But there are many people (of whom
> Chris has raised his head) who have needs or preferences for other
> software of whom some (as Chris spelled out) may totally lack
> support for R and LaTex, etc., from their organisations.
> I've pondered such issues many times myself, being one of the
> old nomadic troff-herders and still herding the groffs.
> My routine approach is as Chris described: grab the output from
> R (be it mouse-copied off-screen, from a saved file, or for
> graphics from a file of the coordinates of the graphical objects,
> or an EPS file), plant this into a groff document, and wrap it
> in formatting tags so that it comes out nicely. A bit time
> consuming, but since it's fairly straightforward in a markup
> language like g/troff, not so very time-consuming; and I dare
> say the same would be true for TeX/LaTex if Sweave&  Co did
> not exist. However, I would hate to have to do it for Word and
> the like! I bet that *is* time consuming.
> All of which is leading on to a suggestion that has been lurking
> in my mind for a while.
> How about an R "device" called xml? This would implement the XML
> "extensible markup language" which is basically capable of
> encapsulating any formatted material.
> The existing R devices seem to be confined to graphical output.
> XML can in principle cope with anything. Naturally, its function
> would be to save to file, not display on screen.
> I believe that Word (and maybe other MS Office software) can import
> XML. I know that XML can be converted to g/troff input (I've done it).
> It can no doubt be converted to TeX/LateX input. I'm not familiar
> enough with other document software to comment
> Then we would have a "universal" language for formatted R output,
> suitable for importing formatted R output into document preparation
> software. One would not need the full functionality of XML.
> Up to a point (I'm far from being an XML guru) I'd be prepared to
> assist with this, and in particular to test it out with groff.
> Any comments? Might there be a better suggestion than XML?
> Ted.

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