[Rd] GUI's and R background processes

From: Anne George <ag_at_idesignsoftware.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:39:01 +0000


I am new to R and have created an application using R 2.10, with a graphical UI using TclTk 8.5, running on windows 7, quad core machine. The intention of the application is to launch calculations and display results on a graphical dashboard.

I've reached a roadblock, and I need to confirm that the following CANNOT be done. I've been trying to find a mechanism for doing the following:

  1. From the dashboard, start a huge calculation (i.e. call a function) that take at least 30 seconds to run, but without tying up the other dashboard features
  2. Dashboard can detect when the calculation is finished
  3. Dashboard can display incremental results as the calculation runs (i.e. status/progress)

The requirement is to kickoff 4 calculations (#1), but I don't want the user to wait for the others to finish. The calculations are not dependent. I just need to display results.

I've been reading that threading in R is not an option. I tried using the multicore package, but that is still synchronous. I looked at multicore, fork(), addTaskCallback(), and TclTk threading, and none of these seem like an option.

Is there a way to launch multiple R scripts from controller that can communicate back and forth? I believe this means that the separate processes are able to communicate.

I certainly appreciate any direction you can provide. I really want to find some good news to tell the boss, though, since we went down this path before realizing the limitations.

Thanks very much,


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