[Rd] Interactive Graphics in R [Was: Google Summer of Code 2009]

From: Simon Urbanek <simon.urbanek_at_r-project.org>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:38:01 -0500

On Feb 19, 2009, at 11:20 , Yihui Xie wrote:

> Well, for the first idea, isn't it easy enough to fulfill zooming or
> panning using getGraphicsEvent() in the grDevices package?

Yes, but that's exactly what interactive graphics are NOT about (you just posted a good "chewing gum" reference from my previous e- mail ;)). You can put together ad-hoc hacks (and many have tried it in R before), but the result will not be general interactive graphics. What people don't realize is that a lot in IG software is about user interface and HCI. Having one-shot tools for very specific tasks doesn't really help to solve the big picture (although it may sort of solve your specific immediate problem). There are many good interactive software applications out there, but just linking them to R is just half of the story.

What we need is a more general framework for interactive graphics - this requires more than just a graphics subsystem - you have to depart from the concept of graphics objects and include "statistical objects" in the mix such that the underlying data/statistics etc. can be identified by linking back though the graphics. This is something we still lack in R --- but I hope we will get there sooner or later...

Cheers,
Simon

> For example
> (using keys +/-/Left/Right/Up/Down/* to zoom and pan):
>
> ##################################################################
> # a demo for zooming and panning in R graphics
> # by Yihui Xie <xieyihui_at_gmail.com> Feb 20, 2009
> ##################################################################
> # a large number of points
> plot(x <- rnorm(5000), y <- rnorm(5000), xlab = "x", ylab = "y")
> xylim <- c(range(x), range(y))
> zoom <- function(d, speed = 0.05) {
> rx <- speed * (xylim[2] - xylim[1])
> ry <- speed * (xylim[4] - xylim[3])
> # global assignment '<<-' here!
> xylim <<- xylim + d * c(rx, -rx, ry, -ry)
> plot(x, y, xlim = xylim[1:2], ylim = xylim[3:4])
> NULL
> }
> # Key `+`: zoom in; `-`: zoom out
> # Left, Right, Up, Down: self-explaining
> # `*`: reset
> # Press other keys to quit
> keybd <- function(key) {
> switch(key, `+` = zoom(1), `-` = zoom(-1), Left = zoom(c(-1,
> 1, 0, 0)), Right = zoom(c(1, -1, 0, 0)), Up = zoom(c(0,
> 0, 1, -1)), Down = zoom(c(0, 0, -1, 1)), `*` = plot(x,
> y), "Quit the program")
> }
> getGraphicsEvent(onKeybd = keybd)
> ##################################################################
>
> Regards,
> Yihui
> --
> Yihui Xie <xieyihui_at_gmail.com>
> Phone: +86-(0)10-82509086 Fax: +86-(0)10-82509086
> Mobile: +86-15810805877
> Homepage: http://www.yihui.name
> School of Statistics, Room 1037, Mingde Main Building,
> Renmin University of China, Beijing, 100872, China
>
>
>
> On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 7:38 PM, Sklyar, Oleg (London)
> <osklyar_at_maninvestments.com> wrote:
>> Two ideas:
>>
>> 1) A library for interactive plots in R
>>
>> R lacks functionality that would allow displaying of interactive
>> plots with two distinct functionalities: zooming and panning. This
>> functionality is extremely important for the analysis of large,
>> high frequency, data sets spanning over large ranges (in time as
>> well). The functionality should acknowledge Axis methods in
>> callbacks on rescale (so that it could be extended to user-specific
>> classes for axis generation) and should have a native C interface
>> to R (i.e. no Java, but such cross platform widgets like GTK or QT
>> or anything similar that does not require heavy-weight add-ons).
>> GTK has been used successfully from within R in many applications
>> (RGtk, rgobby, EBImage etc) on both *nix and Windows, and thus
>> could be a preferential option, it is also extremely easy to
>> integrate into R. The existing tools (e.g. iplots) are slow,
>> unstable and lack support for time/date plots (or actually any non-
>> standard axes) and they are all Java. We are looking into stanard
>> xy-plots as well as image and 3D plots. Obviously one can think of
>> further interactivity, but this would be too much for the Summer of
>> Code project. A good prototype would already be a step forward.
>>
>> 2) Cross platform GUI debugger, preferably further Eclipse
>> integration (beyond StatET capabilities)
>>
>> Tibco has recently released the S+ workbench for eclipse which has
>> a reasonable support for non-command line debugging. In the R
>> community, the StatET eclipse plugin mimics a lot of code
>> development functionality of S+ workbench, but has poor support for
>> in-line execution of R sessions in eclipse and does not have
>> debugging capabilities. Supporting this project further, or
>> developing a GUI debugger independent of eclipse, are both
>> acceptable options. The debugger should allow breakpoints, variable
>> views etc.
>>
>> For both of the above, our interest is mostly on the Linux side,
>> but one should look into cross-platform solutions.
>>
>> Regards,
>> Oleg
>>
>> Dr Oleg Sklyar
>> Research Technologist
>> AHL / Man Investments Ltd
>> +44 (0)20 7144 3107
>> osklyar_at_maninvestments.com
>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: r-devel-bounces_at_r-project.org
>>> [mailto:r-devel-bounces_at_r-project.org] On Behalf Of Friedrich Leisch
>>> Sent: 18 February 2009 22:54
>>> To: r-devel_at_r-project.org
>>> Cc: Manuel.Eugster_at_stat.uni-muenchen.de
>>> Subject: [Rd] Google Summer of Code 2009
>>>
>>>
>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> in approximately one months time mentoring institutions can propose
>>> projects for the Google Summer of Code 2009, see
>>>
>>> http://code.google.com/soc/
>>>
>>> Last year the R Foundation succesfully participated with 4 projects,
>>> see http://www.r-project.org/SoC08/ for details. We want to
>>> participate again this year. Our project proposals will be managed
>>> by
>>> Manuel Eugster (email address in CC). Manuel is one of my PhD
>>> students
>>> and mentored the Roxygen project last year. This mail is mainly
>>> intended to make you aware of the program, Manuel will send a
>>> followup
>>> email with more technical details in the next days.
>>>
>>> In this phase we are looking for potential mentors who can offer
>>> interesting projects to students. I don't think that we will get
>>> much
>>> more than 4-6 projects, so don't be disappointed if you propose
>>> something and don't get selected.
>>>
>>> There are two selection steps involved: (a) The R Foundation has to
>>> compile an official "ideas list" of projects, for which students can
>>> apply. Last year we had 8 of those. After that, we (b) get a certain
>>> number of slots from Google (4 last year) and all prospective
>>> project
>>> mentors can vote on which projects actually get funding.
>>>
>>> Currently we are looking for good ideas for phase (a). I give no
>>> guarantees that all ideas will get on our official ideas list,
>>> what we
>>> pick depends on the number of submissions and topics,
>>> respectively. We
>>> want to make sure to have a broad range of themes, it is unlikely,
>>> that we will, e.g., pick 10 database projects. Also keep in mind
>>> that
>>> students have only three months time. This is not a research
>>> exercise
>>> for the students, you should have a rough idea what needs to be
>>> done.
>>>
>>> Last year we had a majority of "infrastructure projects", and only
>>> few
>>> with focus on statistical algorithms. We got a lot of applications
>>> for
>>> the latter, so don't hesitate to formulate projects in that
>>> direction. Important infrastructure may get precedence over
>>> specialized algorithms, though, because the whole community can
>>> benfit
>>> from those. But that will be a decision in phase (b), and we are not
>>> there yet.
>>>
>>> Please don't send any ideas to me right now, wait for the above
>>> mentioned email by Manuel on the technical details for idea
>>> submission.
>>>
>>> Best,
>>> Fritz
>>>
>>> --
>>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ---------
>>> Prof. Dr. Friedrich Leisch
>>>
>>> Institut für Statistik Tel: (+49 89)
>>> 2180 3165
>>> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Fax: (+49 89)
>>> 2180 5308
>>> Ludwigstraße 33
>>> D-80539 München
>>> http://www.statistik.lmu.de/~leisch
>>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ---------
>>> Journal Computational Statistics --- http://www.springer.com/180
>>> Münchner R Kurse --- http://www.statistik.lmu.de/R
>>>
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> R-devel_at_r-project.org mailing list
>>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
>>>
>>
>> **********************************************************************
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>>
> <zoom.pan.r>



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