R-alpha: suggestion for the R help system

Ross Ihaka (ihaka@stat.auckland.ac.nz)
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 10:41:46 +1300 (NZDT)

From: Ross Ihaka <ihaka@stat.auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 10:41:46 +1300 (NZDT)
Message-Id: <199611132141.KAA29596@stat13.stat.auckland.ac.nz>
To: Kurt.Hornik@ci.tuwien.ac.at
Subject: R-alpha: suggestion for the R help system
In-Reply-To: <199611131059.LAA12930@aragorn.ci.tuwien.ac.at>

Kurt Hornik writes:
 > As more and more S packages get ported to R (Thomas has survival and
 > gee, and Fritz just completed fracdiff), it might be a good idea to
 > start thinking about how to add documentation for new packages to the R
 > help system.
 > I have the following suggestion:
 > * For the time being, stay with a flat help file directory (Eventually,
 > it would of course be better to have one directory per package).

This is part of the more general "libraries" problem.  Robert is
having a think about how handle things like "library",
"dyn.load.library" and how manual pages will be accessed.
Film at 11.

 > * Have a separate index file for each package, with the naming
 > convention
 > 	AnIndex.${package_name}
 > * Have a trivial shell script which `builds' the real index by doing
 > 	cat AnIndex.* | uniq | sort > AnIndex
 > in the R help directory.
 > * I also have two trivial scripts which convert S man (nroff) source to
 > help files useable by R and build an index, respectively.
 > Opinions?

I'm not happy with the way we have done the manual entries.  I would
rather do the formatting for on-line help directly from the manual
source files, rather than processing them all with nroff as part of the
setup step (this is not a good solution for the Mac or Windows).

This might mean changing the format of the files, but I don't see this
as a problem.  The present format (designed to be processed by m4) was
chosen to make it easy to switch to another format.

If anyone would like to take on the task of designing a
manual/documentation system for R we'd welcome it.
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