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

Kasper Daniel Hansen khansen at stat.Berkeley.EDU
Fri Oct 21 21:13:20 CEST 2005

On Oct 21, 2005, at 8:53 AM, Peter Kleiweg wrote:

> James Wettenhall schreef op de 21e dag van de wijnmaand van het  
> jaar 2005:
>> We may have to agree to disagree about some things, but I hope
>> this has made my point of view a little clearer.
> Actually, your elaborate response makes much sense to me. I
> understand now that it is not just about replacing the command
> line with a GUI. It is not like LaTeX versus Word (i.e. good
> versus bad), but about organising and streamlining tasks, doing
> "higher level" things. At least, that is what I think it is.
> This is a topic I have been struggling with for quite some time.
> For years, I have been working on software for dialectometrics
> and cartography. At the beginning, just for doing research at
> our institute. But soon, it developed into something people from
> other institutes can use. A large set of command line programs,
> manual pages, an R interface, and quite an extensive tutorial
> with example material.
> My employer urged me to add some sort of GUI. It would make more
> people willing to try using the software. I resisted the idea of
> a GUI. For one thing, I work on Linux but the GUI should be used
> on Windows. (Java is too bothersome. Smalltalk too clumsy. And I
> didn't know about Python yet.) But the main problem was: I had
> no idea what a GUI should look like, what it was supposed to do.
> It took me quite some time, working with my own software, before
> I was able to look at it from a distance. The software is just a
> toolkit. I didn't want a Graphical Toolkit. What I wanted was
> something like a Graphical Project Manager, something task
> oriented, with and interactive help system that guides the user
> through the work.
> It is still fresh. I haven't had any responses on people using
> the GUI, so I don't know yet if this is what people helps. What
> I still think as one of the biggest obstacles for using my
> software is not cured by the GUI. You still need to select and
> prepare the data. If you want maps, you have to provide map
> data, in a format the software understands.

For the applications James have in mind, the data format is basically  
standardized. From a certain level you might think of every  
observation residing in a separate file (in one out of a couple of  
different file formats), so all the user has to do is choose "file  
format" and basically label every file with eg.  
"control"/"treatment". This is somewhat simplifying of course, but  
basically the data input step is much more simple than in "general"  

> This GUI I built is quite specific. It assumes a quite narrow
> purpose (though parts of the software can be used independently
> for quite other purposes): you start with a set of dialect data,
> you do some calculations on that data to make estimates of
> differences between dialects, and you visualise these dialect
> differences on a geographic map.
> I still don't see anything like that for R. A general GUI for R?
> What are the "higher level task" you use R for? It only makes
> sense to me if you want to use R in a specific field, such as in
> Bioconductor. You build a GUI to that specific higher level
> application of R.

Yes, and this is exactly what James have been doing.

> Or does anyone want to transform R into something like a
> spreadsheet program? There are people making a GUI for LaTeX to
> make it look like Word, a WYSIWYG, but to me that seems like a
> very silly thing to do.

Agreed, although I am humble enough to know that there might be sense  
in doing so from a certain perspective which I am not aware of.


> For those interested, here is my software:
>     http://www.let.rug.nl/~kleiweg/L04/
> And the GUI is here:
>     http://www.let.rug.nl/~kleiweg/L04/pyL04/
> -- 
> Peter Kleiweg
> http://www.let.rug.nl/~kleiweg/
> ______________________________________________
> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

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