[R-SIG-Mac] OSX R Gui Data editor

Byron Ellis byron.ellis at gmail.com
Tue Mar 11 07:59:36 CET 2008

Your colleague's reaction is completely correct. If all you need to do
is hand enter 20 data points and run a t-test then even Instat is
probably overkill and R is definitely overkill. Hell, I'm pretty sure
the last graphing calculator I owned could do various sorts of
t-tests. The ones kids have these days can probably do glm.

R is mostly aimed at people whose data is already in electronic form
so the data entry mechanisms simply don't get used very much
(certainly not by me, the idea of hand entering data mostly strikes me
as a good way to introduce errors). Think of R like a big industrial
CNC mill or something. It's big, clunky and kind of a pain, but if you
need to make a set of intricate wheel rims to very high tolerances
there is nothing on this earth that can match it. However, not so
great for paper snowflakes, unless you've been using it forever in
which case its mostly out of habit... and you've lost your scissors.

Now, would it be nice if there was a full-blown spreadsheet interface
built into R? Hell, yes. But, unless someone is volunteering to write
it, I'm more likely to discover that my alarm clock is made of pound

On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:11 PM, John Walker <john.s.walker at uchsc.edu> wrote:
> G'day
>  I just tried to introduce a naive user to R via doing a t-test on her
>  data using Rcmdr on OS X. Now I'm not sure if this is the right mailing
>  list but I must say that  the introduction was a complete and total
>  failure because of the OSX data editor that is called by Rcmdr. I think
>  this is the one that comes with the R GUI. We tried to enter her data
>  into R and I couldn't do it using the OS X data editor. When I had to go
>  to the command line she was clearly initialy put off by the poor editor
>  and by the need for the command line to fix it.  As she said, "how can I
>  trust a stats program with my important data if they can't get data
>  entry working?". She promptly went back to Instat
>  I know that the criticism she voiced isn't valid and that some learning
>  is required for any program, but I think she has a point. The data
>  editor as it stands is a failure. The idea that you can add a column but
>  not change the variable name and that you have to double click on each
>  cell to enter data is crazy. It is simply a pretty looking window with
>  less functionality than the old x11 interface.
>  I'm aware that the current model is "prepare your data elsewhere and
>  import it into R" but this is an absurd stance. It works for large data
>  sets that statistical experts deal with but then the  casual t-test
>  requires several programs and an import step. A silly approach
>  especially when the data sets are small (about 10-20 entries) and all
>  the user wants to do is a simple t-test.
>  If braoder adoption of R is an aim then the OS X data editor needs to be
>  at least as functional as the X11 one. The ability to double click to
>  change variable names and right click to change the variable type (or
>  menu entries to do this) is important if not essential. The ability to
>  tab to the next data entry slot is also a simple but important function
>  that needs to be included.  Right now it is a barrier to new OS X users
>  who want to try out R using a simple t-test on a small data set.
>  Regards
>  John Walker
>  --
>  John Walker
>  Assistant Professor of Cardiology
>  Department of Medicine
>  University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
>  4200 E. Ninth Ave B130
>  BRB Rm 351
>  Denver CO 80262
>  ph 303 315 0103
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Byron Ellis (byron.ellis at gmail.com)
"Oook" -- The Librarian

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