[R-SIG-Mac] Tcl/Tk issues in arm64 build of R 4.1.0

John Fox j|ox @end|ng |rom mcm@@ter@c@
Thu Sep 9 23:44:06 CEST 2021

Dear Brian,

Thank you for the additional explanation.

If I understand correctly, the X11 version of Tcl/Tk will continue to be 
distributed with the R CRAN Intel and arm64 builds because it is 
compatible with R.app. If so, the simplest solution is probably to 
distribute the patched TkTable package with these builds, for backwards 
compatibility (perhaps not just for the Rcmdr package).

Your instructions for including tktablelist with the Rcmdr package seem 
clear, and I'll give that a try in case TkTable continues to be 
unavailable in the arm64 build.


On 2021-09-09 4:57 p.m., Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> On 09/09/2021 21:34, John Fox wrote:
>> Dear Brian,
>> Thank you for responding so quickly. Please see below:
>> On 2021-09-09 2:59 p.m., Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
>>> On 09/09/2021 19:03, John Fox wrote:
>>>> Dear Simon, Philippe, and list members,
>>>> I've encountered some Tcl/Tk-related issues with the Apple silicon 
>>>> arm64 build of R 4.1.0 for macOS. These issues affect the Rcmdr 
>>>> package, although they don't prevent it from working:
>>>> (1) Some fonts that are available for the Intel build appear to be 
>>>> missing from the arm64 build. Compare the screen shots of the Rcmdr 
>>>> main window at 
>>>> <https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/jfox/.Pickup/x86_64-apple-darwin17.0.png> 
>>>> (Intel build) and 
>>>> <https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/jfox/.Pickup/aarch64-apple-darwin20.png> 
>>>> (arm64 build). This problem is purely aesthetic.
>>> It would be helpful to know what those fonts are.  This is likely to 
>>> be a fontconfig issue and needs to be debugged by name.
>> I query the Tk default and fixed-width fonts via
>>      tclvalue(.Tcl("font actual TkDefaultFont -family")
>>      tclvalue(.Tcl("font actual TkFixedFont -family"))
>> and use those -- in the past, that produced pleasing font choices on 
>> all platforms. In the macOS Intel build, the resulting font families 
>> are "Verdana" and "Andale Mono"; in the arm64 build, "helvetica" and 
>> "courier". Perhaps the Intel and arm64 builds were just configured 
>> differently.
> Yes, I think fontconfig was, and that may help Simon dig into this.
>>>> (2) The Tcl/Tk Tktable package is apparently absent from the arm64 
>>>> build but still present in the Intel build. The Rcmdr detects its 
>>>> absence and suppresses some features (i.e., those requiring the 
>>>> Rcmdr data editor). I understand that the Tktable package is 
>>>> problematic and it may have been removed intentionally.
>>> https://sourceforge.net/projects/tktable/files/tktable/2.10/Tktable2.10.tar.gz 
>>> (apparently the latest version from 2008)
>>> does not compile against recent Tcl/Tk (8.6.11 seems to be used): it 
>>> uses 'panic' which should be 'Tcl_Panic'.    (The Intel build appears 
>>> to be much older, 8.6.6.)
>>> I have a patched version: AFAICS it installs entirely into 
>>> /opt/R/arm64/lib I could tar it up and make it available.
>>> I could also send the patch to Simon for future use, but note that 
>>> https://mac.r-project.org/libs-arm64/ contains an aqua build of 
>>> Tcl/Tk (not the X11 build in the CRAN build of R 4.1.[01]) and which 
>>> does not support Tcl/Tk.
>> I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand that -- perhaps there's a typo 
>> here? Do you mean to say that an aqua build of Tcl/Tk will replace the 
>> X11 build after R 4.1.1, and that Tktable will be incompatible with it?
> There was, so let me expand.
> There are two Tk implementations on macOS,
> - using aqua, which is included in https://mac.r-project.org/libs-arm64/
> - using X11, included in the CRAN distributions of R 4.1.[01] on amd64, 
> and always used for Intel. So I do not have access to the details of 
> that build.
> As I recall, TkTable does not install for the aqua implementation, but 
> does (when patched) for the X11 implementation.  My recollection is that 
> XQuartz became available for amd64 not long before R 4.0.0 and Simon 
> switched to X11 Tk, although pre-releases had aqua Tk.
>> If so, first, I think that an aqua Tcl/Tk would be preferable to the 
>> current X11 version. If I understand correctly, for example, aqua 
>> would put Tk menus where Mac users expect them.
> aqua Tk does not work correctly with R.app, and is not supported by 
> package tkrplot (which lots of other packages depend on).  Personally I 
> usually use aqua Tk in my own builds, but then I only use R.app if 
> needed to debug something.
>> Second, given the problems that Tktable seems to be producing, 
>> wouldn't it be better to make Tablelist available as a substitute? I'm 
>> happy to rewrite the Rcmdr data editor using Tablelist (actually, it's 
>> mostly done), and, as I said, if I knew how to incorporate the Tcl/Tk 
>> Tablelist package in the Rcmdr package (if it's undesirable simply to 
>> make it available generally), I'd do it.
> That's your choice.  The sources are at 
> https://www.nemethi.de/tablelist/tablelist6.15.tar.gz and contain a 
> README.txt with a 'How to Install It?'.  At least on a Unix-alike you 
> just need to unpack that into somewhere on the Tcl path.  So to 
> distribute with an R package, have the  tablelist6.15 dir in inst/ and 
> arrange to add the installed location to the Tcl search path with 
> tcltk::addTclPath() .  (I don't see why Windows would be different.)

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