[R] A useful GUI?

Paul Murrell p.murrell at auckland.ac.nz
Tue Jul 24 03:36:21 CEST 2001


> > I saw an ad in the July 2001 Amstat News for a complex sample
> > survey analysis package called Wesvar.  The package has
> > what appears to be a useful feature called a "Workbook"
> > by which the user navigates analysis output.  This is a
> > hierarchical tree in which the user may click on a part
> > of the analysis (table, regression fit, descriptive stats,
> > etc.) so as to go directly to that output.  Recent versions
> > of SAS have something similar.  In SAS the title of a
> > graphic may be what appears in the navigation tree, and
> > clicking on that entry will replay the appropriate graph.
> >
> > Has anyone had experience with such GUIs and would comment
> > on productivity or documentation benefits?  I wonder
> > what would be the most platform-independent way to
> > implement such a feature, e.g., dynamic html, if it is
> > useful to statisticians.
> I've tried the SAS stuff (the Analyst application). It's a fairly neat
> idea, but you do need to put in a substantial effort to relabel the
> stuff and delete any "junk" output, or find yourself with a bunch of
> litle icons all having similar generic names like "Probability plot" or
> "ANOVA output" (I forget the exact names, but you get the picture).
> There was a strange division between SAS programming and Analyst in
> that *only* code executed from Analyst would go into the project tree,
> nicely incorporating the SAS code that Analyst had written for you,
> but excuting SAS code directly would go to a *different* tree, which
> did *not* include the code that was executed.
> The version I tried (SAS 8.0) was also bug-ridden beyond belief.
> Suddenly, the system would get itself into a state where the tree
> could no longer be saved, detracting rather badly from the usefulness.
> They might have fixed that in the meantime though.
> The newer Enterprise Guide stuff is reportedly neater, but we never
> succeeded in getting it to run on any of our PC SAS installations
> (seemingly, it was not prepared for our particular network
> configuration).

SPSS has a similar thing for navigating its output.  I found it extremely
useful for navigation
 -- I think its a great way to present the hierarchical nature of the output
as a complement to the very "flat" view that you get from the output
itself -- but it was also useful for *selecting* bits of the output for
copying or deletion.

I think this would also be a nice way to navigate the hierarchical structure
of graphical output (for selecting/editing elements of a graph).


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