Re: (G)UI for R and in R

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Subject: Re: (G)UI for R and in R
From: Douglas Bates (
Date: Tue 16 Nov 1999 - 08:05:22 EST

Message-ID: <>

First, let me say that I come from the command-line-oriented world and
most of the time I find that graphical user interfaces just get in the
way. Like many people who use implementations of the S language
(i.e. S-PLUS 3.x, S-PLUS 5.x, and R) on Unix/Linux systems, my
preferred environment for running and editing S code is emacs with the
ESS package.

My responses on a GUI for writing scripts are from this perspective
but I do recognize that many people find a GUI much more comfortable
than trying to remember lots of archane function names and, in the
case of emacs, keystrokes.

Thomas Vogels <> writes:

> 2) for help with writing R scripts
> Does R help me with a graphical introspection tool? I guess this
> is what the object explorer is meant for. Can I bring up a list of
> objects and kinda click my way to the attributes of the object? its
> data? (Not unusual scenario: And why does apply not work this time?
> Oh, wrong dimensions, I forgot the "drop=F" option...) Can I click on
> a function and send it to an editor? Find out where it came from?

(BTW, I think you mean "graphical inspection tool".) Although not a
substitute for graphical inspection, I find Martin Maechler's "str"
function to be invaluable when I am trying to remember the structure
of various objects, including (and perhaps especially) those for which
I designed the structure.

As far as editing a function definition, there are excellent
facilities within ESS for that. Object name completion within ESS is
by itself worth the price of learning to use the mode.

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