[R] A Few Suggestions to help out newbies

Friedrich.Leisch@ci.tuwien.ac.at Friedrich.Leisch at ci.tuwien.ac.at
Thu Apr 4 15:39:04 CEST 2002


sorry to join late on the thread, I was on easter vacation. I'm mostly
responding to the first mail rather the latest mail in the thread
because the thread has forked into several branches.

So comments from one of the two CRAN maintainers:

Ad "dynamic" features of CRAN (cookbook section, dynamic FAQ, multiple
views of package lists, ...:
The CRAN master site must unfortuneately remain static, because
mirroring won't work any more. We cannot (and do not want to) assume
anything about the software/web server/... installed on mirror
sites, hence CRAN is plain HTML. And we need the mirror sites, because
the computing center of our university is already complaining from
time to time about the network usage CRAN generates (we are among the
top 3 servers of the university almost all of the time). 

If somebody provides a dynamic site for a feature [s]he finds useful,
we are more than happy to link to it from the R homepage and/or
CRAN. E.g., searching CRAN is something where volunteers have stepped
in and provide the feature on their site [thanks a
lot!]. *.r-project.org is already a virtual newtork, the main site is
in vienna, the bug repsoitory in copenhagen, the developers site in
wisconsin and the mailing list server sits in zürich ...

>>>>> On 02 Apr 2002 03:28:13 -0800,
>>>>> Zed Shaw (ZS) wrote:

  > Hey Folks,
  > I may have some suggestions for you, based on my experience as a newbie
  > with R.  Implementing these very simple resources would be fairly easy
  > to do and would give volumes of help in return:

  > 1)  An R Cookbook section of the site where people can submit pieces of
  > interesting code that satisfies a need.  This would be similar to the
  > Perl/Python/Java Cookbook texts that O'Reilly puts out, but with a more
  > dynamic activity.  The python folks have something like this, and people
  > love it.  I learned a lot of python this way.

See above, volunteers are more than welcome.

  > 2) A Series of Documents helping people translate from another
package > to R.  For example, "R for SPSS People", "R for SAS People",

Send us the document, it will be on CRAN in a minute (or two :-)

  > 3)  A dynamic FAQ, placed prominently on the front page, ready for
  > people to access and search.  The idea is that, as you encounter these
  > dumb questions, you can slap up another faq question about it.  When it
  > is asked again, don't bother replying, just *politely* say, "go to
  > http://www.r-project.com/somefaqquestion/".  That saves everyone
  > headaches, and encapsulates the knowledge on the list.  If it were setup
  > right, it could be searchable through R.

See above, volunteers are more than welcome.

  > 4)  Better web site layout.  It is hard to read the manuals if you can't
  > find them.


I admit that I'm not a professional web designer, but I still think
that the job I did is not that bad. What's wrong or hard to find about
a menu entry "Manuals" in section "Documentation"???

They also come as part of every standard R distribution, and R asks
you kindly to try help.start() on startup ...

  > 5)  Better search for the site.  It would be nice if you used google on
  > the site, but even htdig setup properly would help.

There is a htdig search kindly provided by Jonathan Baron.

  > 6)  Better layout of packages listed on CRAN.  This listing format will
  > collapse under its own weight once it gets too large.

It already is too large. The current format was designed when we had
20 or 30 packages on CRAN. But given schedules of the people involved
don't expect anything to happen for the next 2-3 months.

  > 8) Command completion and contextual help in R.  The first one is
  > probably fairly easy.  The second one is probably impossible.  It would
  > involve giving out detailed help messages when things go wrong.  Not
  > sure how to do that.

As a happy ESS user I've got nothing to add to previous emails.


PS: And now back to improving R CMD check/build for the upcoming 1.5

r-help mailing list -- Read http://www.ci.tuwien.ac.at/~hornik/R/R-FAQ.html
Send "info", "help", or "[un]subscribe"
(in the "body", not the subject !)  To: r-help-request at stat.math.ethz.ch

More information about the R-help mailing list