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

Jan De Leeuw deleeuw at stat.ucla.edu
Thu Oct 20 01:08:59 CEST 2005

Ah. Let the language wars begin. Although I agree that going with R
is basically a sad mistake


giving up on R/S is no longer an option, I hope. Too much investment
from the community. Reculer pour mieux sauter, indeed.

On Oct 19, 2005, at 3:43 PM, Jeffrey J. Hallman wrote:

> If you're looking for a GUI toolkit that:
>    1.  Is cross-platform,
>    2.  Has a good collection of widgets that look good on all  
> platforms, and
>    3.  Is easy to work with from R
> then it is hopeless.  There is no such toolkit.
> As one poster mentioned, most of the better GUI toolkits are very
> object-oriented, because that paradigm is a good fit for GUI  
> programming.
> There are a few programming environments out there that do have  
> nice GUI
> abilities, but they all use base languages that are not very R- 
> like, and so
> the potential R GUI programmer is faced with having to use two very  
> different
> languages for his creation.  And even if that obstacle is  
> surmounted, there
> remains the difficulty of trying to package up his work in such a  
> way as to
> make it easily installed by others.  Things are always breaking in the
> interfaces between R and whatever you're using.  Trying to keep it  
> all running
> and packaging it for deployment are thankless, gargantuan tasks.
> There is a better way, and that is to give up on R.  Start over with
> a better programming environment, one that is object oriented, as  
> flexible and
> dynamic as R, is cross platform, easy to program in, and has decent  
> facilities already.  Then port the stuff in R that does statistical
> programming, and you have the best of all worlds.
> The environment I am thinking about is VisualWorks Smalltalk, which  
> is free
> for noncommercial use.  As a language, Smalltalk is both simpler  
> and more
> powerful than R, and the VM it runs on is much faster than the R  
> interpreter.
> It has superior garbage collection and the best IDE in the business.
> Callouts to C are just as easy as they are in R, but would likely  
> not be
> needed as often due to the faster VM and much better programming  
> facilities.
> Interfaces to various databases are possible, and the most powerful  
> web
> toolkit (Seaside) is written in Smalltalk and runs under VisualWorks.
> There are a couple of other Smalltalk environments around that  
> could also be
> considered.  Squeak is an open source cross-platform Smalltalk that  
> is not as
> fast as VisualWorks, but still must faster and more robust than the R
> interpreter.  Smalltalk/X is another possibility, though it works  
> only on
> Windows and Unix.
> Think about it.  Once you have a basic math package that can handle  
> matrix
> programming and various mathematical functions, building the various
> statistical modeling tools on top of them is not that hard.  What  
> makes S and
> R so much better than SAS is their programmability.  Smalltalk is  
> like that,
> only better.
> Jeff Hallman
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