[R-SIG-Mac] built-in editor underlining

J ö rg Beyer Beyerj at students.uni-marburg.de
Sun Sep 17 20:28:58 CEST 2006

Dear Simon, 

allow me to drop parts of the thread from this message, it's probably easier
to read. 
Your reply lets me fear I stepped onto your feet, which was not my
intention, as I already said. And as you already said, much is a question of
taste, and therefore it's quite difficult to "discuss" this or that point,
but sharing some thoughts is ok, and curiosity is a real gift ;-)

> Could you, please, elaborate more on that? I'm sure BBedit doesn't
> have argument hints, auto-completion etc. (features I like - but then
> that's why implemented them ;)), so I'm really curious what it can

Did I refer to auto-completion? I can't find that in my original message.

> offer that R.app doesn't (I'm a bit surprised to hear such comparison
> with BBedit, because there are much better editors out there - but
> editors are always a matter of taste ;)).  ...

Did I compare BBEdit with R.app? No...
In fact, I compared it with certain aspects of R.app's built-in editor.
Apologies if I'm the only one who sees the difference.

To be more precise, I referred to syntax highlighting between R.app's
built-in and other editors in the first place. So, "better" relates to the
context of my message. I didn't mention or mean "better in code completion"
or "best of all text editors".
But you are right, I could have been more specific which other aspects I
find "more specialized" beyond syntax highlighting. I tend to use various
tools at the same time, if one can't do it all. I use R.app and BBEdit in
parallel, and that's a quite powerful combination. In my opinion.

Which means that I edit my R code with BBEdit, because it offers
-- speedy syntax highlighting
-- powerful RegEx search and replace, per file/folder/project
-- easier navigation through the code (in my opinion; I tend to use
   relatively large files, and have more than only a few open -- just
   another question of taste)
-- productive automation features (well, that may sound a bit off-topic, but
   is part of my personal coding and code organizing style ... again,
   only IMHO) 
-- a working clipping system (which could be better ;)
-- direct access to UNIX scripts and "filters", which I make heavy use of to
   "reengineer" or "refactor" code, or for the simple reoccurring things
   that can make life easy.
-- syntax folding, which is said to be a nice feature, but I don't have that
   new version, and so I don't have an own opinion.

That's rather specialized, isn't it?
... while BBEdit on the other hand doesn't have code completion, of course
(one of the most criticized aspects). But, you know, I don't profit that
much from code completion at the moment. As a relative beginner, I prefer to
have the help pages open in R.app and look up what I need. Gives me a better
illusion of control ;-) Hopefully that will change, and then in turn may (or
may not) change my working style.

You can, of course, replace the product name BBEdit with any of the
alternatives YOU prefer, I'm not that picky.

A bit philosophy comes in, too. Why should I expect any developer to
reinvent certain specialized functionalities, when other tools already offer
them, and at the same time integrate seamlessly with R.app? Isn't that just
what we want? To encourage different working habits, and profit from already
existing tools? I'm a fan of collaboration, and that applies to software,
I don't like to discuss what "specialized" means, in absolute terms.
Specialized is what one needs to get his/her work done. Easily. Faithfully.
It's just that simple.

So can we meet in the middle? R.app is more than its editor, and it is
rather good at what it does, and makes our life easier (in my opinion), I
use it heavily; while other *editors* may have some advantages and may be
used to *assist* R.app's built-in tools. We're dealing with code/simple
text, not any proprietary (read: obscure) data format, we're free to decide
as often as we like.

Regarding some improvements in R.app in general -- you certainly remember
that we had some short correspondence, some month ago. Good things take

As always: just my two cents.
Thanks for your interest.


P.S.: And some day I will certainly find out how to make my messages appear
in the thread, not elsewhere ... Sorry ;)
(Curious if it works *this* time)

> ... R.app *is* intended to be
> "a specialized tool" exactly for that purpose - working with R
> scripts. The only way we can figure out what users want is when they
> tell us (as every one has different workflow habits), so please share
> your thoughts with us. Even if the improvements won't necessarily
> make you switch, they can be valuable for other users.
> Thanks,
> Simon

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