Re: [R] Documentation General Comments

From: Kingsford Jones <kingsfordjones_at_gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 20:55:43 -0700

I just read through this thread and I didn't see the R Language Definition mentioned. As with An Introduction to R it can be accessed -- at least in my Windows GUI -- via the menu bar: Help -> Manuals (in PDF). If An Introduction to R is too basic, then the Language Definition should be a good place to look for more details on R objects (Ch 2). However An Introduction to R does include authoritative introductions to the "data types" mentioned by the original poster: factors (Ch4), arrays and matrices (Ch 5), and lists and data frames (Ch 6).

That said, I agree that learning efficiency could be improved by augmenting the manuals with tables similar to the table 2.1 that was referenced earlier in the thread (aside: are functions, or even lists, really "Data Objects"?). Of course, as pointed out by Duncan, we are collaborators not consumers, so if I think there should be more tables in the documents then the onus is on me to try to get my ideas incorporated (see
http://wiki.r-project.org/rwiki/doku.php?id=misc:rpatch ).

Kingsford Jones

On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 9:37 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca> wrote:
> On 4/24/2008 12:08 PM, Martin Maechler wrote:
> > Hmm,
> >
> >>>>>> "KeBe" == Beck, Kenneth (STP) <Kenneth.Beck_at_bsci.com>
> >>>>>> on Thu, 24 Apr 2008 10:12:19 -0500 writes:
> >
> > KeBe> OK I've spent a lot of time with the core
> > KeBe> documentation, and I never found anything as simple as
> > KeBe> their table 2.1, which elucidated the difference
> > KeBe> between a vector, matrix and array first, then the
> > KeBe> higher level structures, frame and list. Maybe I'm
> > KeBe> not a good searcher, but believe me for every initial
> > KeBe> posting I submit to this group, I have spent hours
> > KeBe> trying to find the answer elsewhere. And, as you
> > KeBe> state, maybe I am now deluded by that presentation,
> > KeBe> maybe it is not this simple!
> >
> > Well, I get the impression that you've never read the manual
> > "Introduction to R"
> > (or some good book such as Peter Dalgaard's)
> > but have directly jumped into reading help() pages ???

>

> That's not correct. Kenneth started the thread (on Monday) saying:
>
>

> "The basic tutorial "Introduction to R" is so basic, it
> hardly helps at all, then digging through documentation is really an
> exercise in frustration."
>

> Duncan Murdoch
>
>
>

> >
> > Maybe a good idea would be to improve the "Introduction to R"
> > rather than thinking of misusing the help() collection
> > {which is the "reference manual", not the "user manual" !!}
> > by making it easy to understand (and consequently less precise) ??
> >
> > Patches (well reflected ..) to the "Introduction" are quite
> > welcome, indeed.
> > The (development) source is always available
> > at https://svn.r-project.org/R/trunk/doc/manual/R-intro.texi
> >
> > (and yes, the source does look a bit less user-friendly,
> > than its PDF output, e.g.
> > http://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/R-intro.pdf
> > or its >> daily updated << HTML output at
> > http://stat.ethz.ch/R-manual/R-devel/doc/manual/R-intro.html
> > )
> >
> > Regards,
> > Martin
> >
> > KeBe> Look at the help for data.frame. VERY terse
> > KeBe> explanation, with not a good comparison to the other
> > KeBe> data types. Then, look at the titles list. Where is a
> > KeBe> topic for "data types" Every other programming
> > KeBe> language I have used (C++, Pascal, SAS, Java) has a
> > KeBe> basic chapter in the documentation that goes over data
> > KeBe> types, what arrays are, higher level structures, etc.
> > KeBe> When I typed help.search("data type") I get the
> > KeBe> following:
> >
> > KeBe> Help files with alias or concept or title matching
> > KeBe> 'data type' using fuzzy matching:
> > KeBe> character-class(methods) Classes Corresponding to
> > KeBe> Basic Data Types sqlTypeInfo(RODBC) Request
> > KeBe> Information about DataTypes in an ODBC Database
> >
> > KeBe> Looking for the term "character-class(methods)" yields
> > KeBe> nothing. I don't think that is what I want!
> >
> > KeBe> Given all this complaining, I actually have completed
> > KeBe> several nice project using "R", it is an impressive
> > KeBe> package. Somehow, though, we need to make the
> > KeBe> documentation better.
> >
> > KeBe> -----Original Message----- From: Duncan Murdoch
> > KeBe> [mailto:murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca] Sent: Thursday, April
> > KeBe> 24, 2008 9:51 AM To: Beck, Kenneth (STP) Cc: Bert
> > KeBe> Gunter; r-help_at_r-project.org Subject: Re: [R]
> > KeBe> Documentation General Comments
> >
> > KeBe> On 4/24/2008 10:22 AM, Beck, Kenneth (STP) wrote:
> > >> Agree that terseness is good, but I also agree with other
> > >> posters that
> >
> > >> better cross referencing or maybe an index of synonyms
> > >> would be good.
> > >>
> > >> So far, the best suggestion is the pdf at this link
> > >>
> > >> (http://www.medepi.net/epir/epir_chap02.pdf).
> > >>
> > >> Is there a way to pop at least part of this into the
> > >> R-base help page?
> >
> > KeBe> That's an easy question to answer: no. There is no
> > KeBe> way to just pop it in. Incorporating it would take a
> > KeBe> lot of thought and work.
> >
> > >> Are there legal or copyright issues?
> >
> > KeBe> That's also easy: yes, there are. The authors of that
> > KeBe> chapter presumably have copyright in it (unless
> > KeBe> they've transferred it to someone else). Without
> > KeBe> their permission it would be illegal to pop it into R.
> >
> > KeBe> If I had known this from the start,
> > >> it would have been much better. A good analogy is that
> > >> old cartoon of the blind guys trying to figure out what
> > >> an elephant is. The guys feeling at the front get a much
> > >> different impression than the guys poking at the back
> > >> side. I felt like that using R data structures, had to
> > >> blindly poke around trying different things, 90% of which
> > >> did not work, yeilding only error messages, but now
> > >> knowing the underlying
> >
> > >> organisation it is going much more smoothly. Ideally this
> > >> kind of basic info would be in the core R docuemtation,
> > >> you should not have to
> >
> > >> search this hard to get it!
> >
> > KeBe> All of the (correct) information in that chapter is in
> > KeBe> the core documentation. They make a number of
> > KeBe> simplifications, which I think are appropriate for
> > KeBe> their audience, but you shouldn't believe everything
> > KeBe> you read there. The core documentation has to aim for
> > KeBe> a different target, because it needs to be correct.
> >
> > KeBe> Duncan Murdoch
> >
> > >>
> > >> -----Original Message----- From:
> > >> r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org
> > >> [mailto:r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org] On Behalf Of Bert
> > >> Gunter Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 10:29 AM To:
> > >> r-help_at_r-project.org Subject: Re: [R] Documentation
> > >> General Comments
> > >>
> > >> FWIW:
> > >>
> > >> I consider the documentation of Core R to be one of its
> > >> great
> > KeBe> strengths:
> > >> it is terse (read: to the point), detailed, and
> > >> accurate. I find it eminently useful and helpful. Indeed,
> > >> it was why I made the decision some years ago to switch
> > >> from S-Plus to R (I readily acknowledge that S-Plus may
> > >> have improved its docs since then -- haven't looked at it
> > >> in years). While I understand that it may not suit
> > >> everyone -- learning styles differ, after all -- may I at
> > >> least say that there is one user out here who is
> > >> appreciative of the hard work and care that has gone into
> > >> the documentation. Far FAR better than anything I could
> > KeBe> do!
> > >>
> > >> -- Bert Gunter Genentech
> > >>
> > >> -----Original Message----- From:
> > >> r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org
> > >> [mailto:r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org] On Behalf Of Greg
> > >> Snow Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 8:16 AM To: Beck,
> > >> Kenneth (STP); r-help_at_r-project.org Subject: Re: [R]
> > >> Documentation General Comments
> > >>
> > >> This is a case of you can't please everyone. A while
> > >> back there was some complaint that "Introduction to R"
> > >> spent to much time on talking about the different types
> > >> of variables, just the opposite complaint of
> >
> > >> yours.
> > >>
> > >> There are several other sources of documentation (look
> > >> under the books
> >
> > >> link on the R homepage or the contributed documentation
> > >> link on any CRAN site, also browse through the
> > >> newsletter). For more in depth information on variable
> > >> types and object oriented programming in R you
> >
> > >> may want to invest in a copy of "S Programming" by
> > >> Venables and
> > KeBe> Ripley.
> > >>
> > >> If you have specific questions (about data types, or
> > >> other) then tell us what you have read and what you still
> > >> do not understand and you are
> >
> > >> more likely to get a useful answer. (also read the
> > >> posting guide that
> >
> > >> is referenced at the bottom of almost all posts to the
> > >> list).
> > >>
> > >> --
> > >> Gregory (Greg) L. Snow Ph.D. Statistical Data Center
> > >> Intermountain Healthcare greg.snow_at_imail.org (801)
> > >> 408-8111
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>> -----Original Message----- From:
> > >>> r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org
> > >>> [mailto:r-help-bounces_at_r-project.org] On Behalf Of Beck,
> > >>> Kenneth (STP) Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 3:56 PM To:
> > >>> r-help_at_r-project.org Subject: [R] Documentation General
> > >>> Comments
> > >>>
> > >>> I realize the R developers are probably overwhelmed and
> > >>> have little time for this, but the documentation really
> > >>> needs some serious reorganizaton. A good through
> > >>> description of basic variable types would help a lot,
> > >>> e.g. the difference between lists, arrays, matrices and
> > >>> frames. And, it appears there is some object-orientation
> > >>> to R, but it is not complete. I can't, for instance find
> > >>> a "metafile" method for a "recordedplot" type, using
> > >>> either the variable direclty or the replayPlot()
> > >>> method. I am sorry to post this, but I am really having
> > >>> trouble sorting out certain methods in "R". The basic
> > >>> tutorial "Introduction to R" is so basic, it hardly
> > >>> helps at all, then digging
> >
> > >>> through documentation is really an exercise in
> > >>> frustration. The SimpleR is also so basic it is of
> > >>> little help other than to just get started. I
> > >>> occasionally find answers in the mailing list. See my
> > >>> later
> > >>
> > >>> post on recordPlot for a good example.
> > >>>
> >
> > ______________________________________________
> > R-help_at_r-project.org mailing list
> > https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> > PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> > and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
>

> ______________________________________________
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> PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
>

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https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Fri 25 Apr 2008 - 04:01:37 GMT

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