[R-gui] [Rd] R GUI considerations (was: R, Wine, and multi-threadedness)

Hin-Tak Leung hin-tak.leung at cimr.cam.ac.uk
Mon Oct 17 10:45:30 CEST 2005


Since you mentioned tcltk2 and python+wxWidgets, what about Tkinter 
(python's built-in binding to tk)? It is somewhere between the two,
and is shipped as standard these days with python 2.x. Also, if Perl/Tk
works, and Tkinter works, there is no reason why one can't do R/Tk,
without the Tcl (or the obvious Tcl-ish stuff) in the middle.

Just an idea.

Hin-Tak Leung

Philippe Grosjean wrote:
> Hello,
> Following a discussion initiated on r-devel, that mentions SciViews-R 
> and other GUIs issues for R, I would like to make comments (and would be 
> happy if these comments would initiate interesting initiatives).
> A big, big problem with SciViews-R is that a part of it is written in 
> Visual Basic 6, a M$$$$ language, not supported any more, buggy, non 
> transposable to other platforms, etc, etc. Last year, I started to 
> rewrite SciViews-R, using much more native R code, which will ultimately 
> give what I call a "R GUI API", currently partly implemented in the 
> SciViews bundle available on CRAN. That "R GUI API" is a lot of work: 
> thousands of lines of code for the full API, and as I said, only a part 
> of it is currently implemented. That API is developed with reusability 
> in mind: platform-independent, better basis to rewrite SciViews-R in a 
> different language, and freely available for use by other GUIs. However, 
> nobody seems to be interested by this API (may be because it is not 
> documented enough?). Even simple functions like progress() in the svMisc 
> package are ignored, although they could be useful to some people. Well, 
> I regret this situation, but I don't care much more than that: after 
> all, the main goal is to make it the basis of the future 
> platform-independent implementation of SciViews-R.
> Now, regarding the rewritting of SciViews-R itself in a 
> platform-independent environment (i.e., language + graphical widget), 
> this is not undertaken currently for the reason I am not satisfied 
> enough with all curerently existing solutions for various reasons. I 
> give just a few explanations here:
> 1) R + Tcl + Tk. The tcltk R package is widely available and largely 
> debugged. However, there are still problems to make a 100% Tcl console 
> for R (look at Peter Dalgaard's attempt in the package, not complete, 
> not 100% operational, currently). Another problem: the Tk widgets are a 
> little bit old-fashion, and I miss a lot of features provided by more 
> advanded graphical widgets like wxWidgets, for instance. However, it 
> seems to be the best bet, currently. So, I explore various kinds of 
> additions that could make Tcl + Tk a better and more modern GUI 
> implementation. Look at http://www.sciviews.org/SciViews-R... the 
> "tcltk2" package. In that package, I add "Tile", a series of themable 
> and more modern widgets, the famous "tkTable", a tooltip widget, a text 
> widget with synthax colouring, a tree widget, etc. + some Windows 
> specific stuff that help regarding problems like focusing on a Tk 
> window, and communicating with other apps. However, I face the problem 
> of installing all these additional widgets seemlessly under all 
> paltforms supported by R. For the pure Tcl widgets, no problems. But for 
> widgets with compiled code, like Tile or tkTable, this is much more 
> difficult... And since I mainly work on Windows...
> 2) wxWidgets. This is a really great, very capable and 
> platform-independent solution. I like very much James Wettenhal attemps 
> of using wxPython (wxWidgets + Python) through RSPython and the 
> experimental wxPython R package. However, it is still alpha, there are 
> problems to finalize it, and his author is not continuing its 
> development for reasons that are personal to him. So, I am not sure we 
> will have a usable version available soon to integrate wxWidgets with R 
> and use it for a R GUI.
> 3) JAVA. There is a good R GUI written in JAVA: JGR. Moreover, something 
> like the Eclipse platform is a very promizing environment for a 
> rich-featured R IDE. JAVA specialists in my University say such a GUI, 
> written in JAVA will be relatively slow compared to other solutions. 
> However, JGR is a good actual counter-example.
> 4) GTK2. Great widgets... but forgets Windows. I installed and used Gimp 
> under Windows. This is certainly the best demonstration on what can be 
> done with GTK2 under Windows. I must admit I am very disappointed as a 
> Windows user: look&feel is very different, and irritating in several 
> aspects.
> So, a long mail to conclude that, if I still haven't started to 
> implement the platform-independent version of SciViews-R, it is because 
> I am not convinced that any of the currently available R + rich-featured 
> and platform-independent widgets solutions available is the one that 
> will make it possible to reimplement SciViews-R in a streamless and 
> relatively bug-free manner. To summarize, the currently best candidate 
> is R + tcltk + tcltk2. I am convinced that R + Python + wxWidgets is by 
> far a much better solution, but it is still in alpha development. 
> Eclipse + JGR looks promising, and GTK2 is there too, but not enough 
> integrated under Windows for me to start using such a solution, as a 
> Windows user.
> I don't have much time to dedicate to SciViews-R and to the Sciviews R 
> GUI API for the moment, and I will certainly focus on four hot topics: 
> (1) developing the actual SciViews-R as a better teaching aid (I use and 
> need it for my own courses!), (2) contributing to the development of 
> Tinn-R, (3) further integrating R Commander with SciViews-R, and (4) 
> integrating Rpad with SciViews-R. However, I will have various contracts 
> in 2006-2007 where the development of SciViews-R is a part of the job. 
> So, I will have the opportunity to hire one or two developers, and this 
> will hopefully speed up SciViews-R development in a directly that will 
> satisfy more users.
> Otherwise, I am open to any suggestion, and more importantly, to any 
> idea of collaboration with other R GUI developers, as it is currently 
> the case with John Fox (R Commander integration with SciViews-R), 
> Jose-Claudio Faria (Tinn-R developement and Tinn-R compatibility with 
> SciViews-R), and Tom Short (Rpad developments and compatibility with 
> SciViews-R). I think it is important to insist on this, in a world 
> populated with a myriad of slowly developed, half finished, half 
> featured R GUIs, made by people that look too individualist in my view 
> to be able of working all together and to write a single R GUI that has 
> any chance to be full-featured, well-documented, reasonnably bug-free, 
> truly platform-independent, in a near future.
> Best,
> Philippe Grosjean
> ..............................................<°}))><........
>   ) ) ) ) )
> ( ( ( ( (    Prof. Philippe Grosjean
>   ) ) ) ) )
> ( ( ( ( (    Numerical Ecology of Aquatic Systems
>   ) ) ) ) )   Mons-Hainaut University, Pentagone (3D08)
> ( ( ( ( (    Academie Universitaire Wallonie-Bruxelles
>   ) ) ) ) )   8, av du Champ de Mars, 7000 Mons, Belgium
> ( ( ( ( (
>   ) ) ) ) )   phone: +, fax: +
> ( ( ( ( (    email: Philippe.Grosjean at umh.ac.be
>   ) ) ) ) )
> ( ( ( ( (    web:   http://www.umh.ac.be/~econum
>   ) ) ) ) )          http://www.sciviews.org
> ( ( ( ( (
> ..............................................................
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