[R] help output paged in separate window

Frank E Harrell Jr fharrell at virginia.edu
Mon May 26 03:15:01 CEST 2003

On Sun, 25 May 2003 13:05:25 +0100 (BST)
Prof Brian Ripley <ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

> On Sun, 25 May 2003, Frank E Harrell Jr wrote:
> > On Sun, 25 May 2003 10:42:27 +0100 (BST)
> > Ted.Harding at nessie.mcc.ac.uk wrote:
> > 
> > > On 24-May-03 Ted Harding wrote:
> > > > I use R in X windows on Linux.
> > > > [...]
> > > > Often, I would like to have the output from 'help' pop up in a separate
> > > > window so that I can continue to work in the R window while reading the
> > > > help. The "help" window could then be closed when interest in this
> > > > particular help dwindles.
> > > > [...]
> > > 
> > > Thanks to Jonathan Baron and Peter Dalgaard for private comments and help
> > > on this question. Peter in particular pointed out that
> > >   library(tcltk); options(pager=tkpager)
> > > does the trick of detaching the pager from the R window exactly as
> > > desired, with relatively small overhead (as opposed to an HTML browser
> > > for 'help.start', or ESS: I put enough load on this 48MB laptop without
> > > having a multimegabyte Fat Man sitting on my memory).
> (BTW, if your Window Manager has a pager that will work at least as well 
> as PAGER: e.g. CDE users can use dtpad and that is much lighter weight 
> than the ca 2Mb needed loading up Tcl/Tk.  You can also make PAGER run 
> less in another instance of your favourite terminal -- which as an 
> additional instance should be cheap.)
> > tkpager works well; I just wish it handled the "see also" links to other help files.
> > 
> > I wish that help.start() would work with the blazing fast html browser
> > dillo (Linux/Unix).  dillo is a 240K executable written in C.
> Presumably it doesn't work because `dillo' is not really a conforming HTML 
> browser?   What actually are the symptoms?

dillo is 'almost' conforming.  The main thing I miss is frames.  Before I responded I thought it would be good to update dillo to the latest version from rpmfind.net.  Now, using dillo 0.7.2, all is well with help.start() and with help(functionname).  The search engine is the only thing I've tested that doesn't work.  I highly recommend dillo for use with R in Linux/Unix.

> help.start() does work with lynx last time I looked, and lynx really is
> small, You can tell essentially nothing about the resident set size of the
> running executable from the file size.  From a web page on gnu.org I found
>   The 'dillo' Web browser is a very fast, extremely small browser. Source 
>   is less than 365 KB, and the binary is around 265 KB. It is a graphical
>   browser built upon GTK+, and it renders a good subset of HTML, excluding
>   frames, JavaScript, and JVM support.
> Note that it requires GTK+, and that is not at all small.

My RedHat 8.0 had GTK+ already, so it didn't cost me.


Frank E Harrell Jr              Prof. of Biostatistics & Statistics
Div. of Biostatistics & Epidem. Dept. of Health Evaluation Sciences
U. Virginia School of Medicine  http://hesweb1.med.virginia.edu/biostat

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