From: Gabor Grothendieck <ggrothendieck_at_gmail.com>

Date: Tue 03 Jan 2006 - 22:43:26 EST

R-help@stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list

https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help PLEASE do read the posting guide! http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html Received on Tue Jan 03 22:50:35 2006

Date: Tue 03 Jan 2006 - 22:43:26 EST

On 1/3/06, Peter Flom <flom@ndri.org> wrote:

> >>> "Rau, Roland" <Rau@demogr.mpg.de> >>> wrote

*> <<<
**> IMO this is a very good proposal but I think that the main problem is
**> not the "translation" of one function in SPSS/Stata/SAS to the
**> equivalent in R.
**> Remembering my first contact with R after using SPSS for some years (and
**> having some experience with Stata and SAS) was that your mental
**> framework is different. You think in "SPSS-terms" (i.e. you expect that
**> data are automatically a rectangular matrix, functions operate on
**> columns of this matrix, you have always only one dataset available,
**> ...). This is why "jumping" from SPSS to Stata is relatively easy. But
**> to jump from any of the three to R is much more difficult.
**> This mental barrier is also the main obstacle for me now when I try to
**> encourage the use of R to other people who have a similar background as
**> I had.
**> What can be done about it? I guess the only answer is investing time
**> from the user which implies that R will probably never become the
**> language of choice for "casual users". But popularity is probably not
**> the main goal of the R-Project (it would be rather a nice side-effect).
**> >>>>
**>
**>
**>
**> As someone who uses SAS qutie a bit and R somewhat less, I think Roland
**> makes some excellent points. Going from SPSS to SAS (which I once did)
**> is like going from Spansih to French. Going from SAS to R (which I am
**> trying to do) is like going from English to Chinese.
**>
**> But it's more than that.
**>
**> Beyond the obvious differences in the languages is a difference in how
**> they are written about;
**> and how they are improved. SAS documentation is much lengthier than
**> R's. Some people like
**> the terseness of R's help. Some like the verboseness of SAS's. SOme of
*

Note that at least some packages do have vignettes which are lengthier discussions of the package than the help files, e.g.

library(zoo)

vignette("zoo")

> this difference is doubtless

*> due to the fact that SAS is commercial, and pays people to write the
**> documentation. I have tremednous
**> appreciation for the unpaid effort that goes into R, and nothing I say
**> here should be seen as detracting from that.
**>
**> As to how they are improved, the fact that R is extended (in part) by
**> packages written by many many different
**> people is good, becuase it means that the latest techniques can be
**> written up, often by the people who
**> invent the techniques (and, again, I appreciate this tremendously), but
**> it does mean that a) It is hard to know what
**> is out there at any given time; b) the styles of pacakages difer
**> somewhat.
*

Regarding (a) note that for certain areas CRAN Task Views addresses this, at least in part. See:

http://cran.r-project.org/src/contrib/Views/

and R-News has a section on changes in CRAN which lists all new packages since the prior issue of CRAN. See:

http://cran.r-project.org/doc/Rnews

R-help@stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list

https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help PLEASE do read the posting guide! http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html Received on Tue Jan 03 22:50:35 2006

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