R-alpha: Documentation + archives

Ross Ihaka (ihaka@stat.auckland.ac.nz)
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 11:35:50 +1300 (NZDT)

From: Ross Ihaka <ihaka@stat.auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 11:35:50 +1300 (NZDT)
Message-Id: <199611252235.LAA29122@stat13.stat.auckland.ac.nz>
To: r-testers@stat.math.ethz.ch
Subject: R-alpha: Documentation + archives


The present "manual" is in a type of "meta-format" to make it possible
to translate to a variety of formats.  Probably any other meta-format
would work just as well - SGML is the obvious one.  An ideal system
should be fexible enough to produce documentation in just about any
format.  From our point-of-view we face the following constraints:

1.  At some point we would like a manual on paper.  To help this
    happen we need a way to produce LaTeX.

2.  We want to support hypertext systems.  Info and html are the
    obvious ones.  At one point I hoped that html3 would provide all
    the support we needed for R, but the math stuff is very slow in
    coming, so I've not bothered doing much on the html side.

3.  R is (hopefully) going to be available for Windows, Mac, ...
    Any format should keep this in mind too.

4.  WE don't have time at present to do much on this front.  We will
    probably just support
    style help and hopefully the LaTeX and HTML stuff.


I am just finishing up some work to make it possible to incorporate
user contributed libraries (the initial pass at this will be our usual
"quick hack" but ultimately we should be able to match the kind of
functionality provided by S).  Once this is done we will really be in
a position to incorporate all sorts of contributed functionality.

What I'd like to see is a core language with a certain amount of
statistical functionality with a kind of "library supermarket" where
users can pick up all kinds of extra functionality.  There are two
problems that I see here.

1.  We will need the ability to do some sort of DLL loading.
    This may mean that support for Unixes without dlopen and friends
    will be limited.  It may be possible to build a "big R" with
    statically loaded object libraries on non-DLL platforms,
    but this since most platforms do have dlopen, this might be an

2.  We are not likely to be the site for a library supermarket.  The
    problem isn't space or time, but rather money.  We pay cold hard
    cash for ftp traffic, and I can imagine that libraries could up
    the level of traffic considerably.  I am already watching our ftp
    logs rather anxiously.


Anyway, enough random blatherings.  We now return you to your regular
programming, already in progress.
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