[R-SIG-Mac] bypassing the R.app help browser?

John Fox jfox at mcmaster.ca
Tue Aug 12 22:46:01 CEST 2014

Hi Marc,

Thanks for this. It does work, and I wasn't aware of it -- you've obviously
done a better job than I did of searching for a solution!

Although this approach works, it has the disadvantage of permanently
changing the help browser in R.app, beyond the current session, at least
until the change is explicitly undone. I think that I can work around that
by something like

	current <- system("defaults read org.R-project.R", intern=TRUE)

to discover whether the use.external.help preference exists, and if so, what
its value is; to then set the preference to YES if it's NO or unset; and
finally to remove the preference on exit.

Again, thanks -- I think that I can work with this, though it would in my
opinion be better if the help browser were settable for the current session
directly via options() in R, or if one could specify the browser in a call
to help().

Best (and thanks again),

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marc Schwartz [mailto:marc_schwartz at me.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 4:04 PM
> To: John Fox
> Cc: r-sig-mac at r-project.org
> Subject: Re: [R-SIG-Mac] bypassing the R.app help browser?
> On Aug 12, 2014, at 2:33 PM, John Fox <jfox at mcmaster.ca> wrote:
> > Dear list members,
> >
> > Is there a way to bypass the R.app help browser, and to use instead
> an alternative browser, such as the one pointed to by
> getOption("browser")?
> >
> > I've tried a number of strategies, including setting .Platform$GUI <-
> "unknown". The only approach I tried that works is to mask the help()
> function with a modified version, but this produces other problems,
> such as referencing unexported objects from utils and tools.
> >
> > It would be nice if the help() function had a browser argument,
> similar to that in browseURL(), and defaulting to the current
> behaviour.
> >
> > Any suggestions would be appreciated.
> >
> > John
> John,
> I found this post from Simon that seems to work:
>   https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-sig-mac/2009-December/006908.html
> I tried it on my Mac in the latest version of R.app, which I normally
> do not use and the help system does now popup a browser.
> Regards,
> Marc Schwartz

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