[R] Proposal for New R List: Criticism? Comments?

John Fox jfox at mcmaster.ca
Fri Sep 10 16:56:51 CEST 2004

Dear Brian et al.,

Jonathan's search site is excellent -- I use it frequently -- and for some
reason new users seem unaware of help.search(), which, despite the fact that
it searches only in installed packages, I also find very useful.

A couple of comments, however: First, if help pages from all packages were
available at a central location -- e.g., at CRAN -- help.search() could have
an option to search that location. Second, I still feel that it would be
useful to provide some other way of searching the space of all available
functions. One idea, which I mentioned in an earlier message on this thread,
would be a keyword system (again, different from the current set of standard
keywords). The keywords could be accessed by help.search() and also compiled
into an index.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Prof Brian Ripley [mailto:ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk] 
> Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 5:26 AM
> To: Jonathan Baron
> Cc: Adaikalavan Ramasamy; John Fox; R-help; 'Berton Gunter'
> Subject: Re: [R] Proposal for New R List: Criticism? Comments?
> On Fri, 10 Sep 2004, Jonathan Baron wrote:
> > On 09/10/04 03:54, Adaikalavan Ramasamy wrote:
> > >There is another issue to be considered. Currently you 
> need to have 
> > >the relevant packages installed before help.search() bring 
> it up. My 
> > >work around this is to install all available packages just in case 
> > >the function I need is nestled in some non-standard 
> packages. I also 
> > >update them rather frequently.
> > 
> > I do this too, at my search site (where 
> "frequently"=monthly) and you 
> > can search functions only, and use Boolean search expressions and 
> > phrases.
> > 
> > But right now the entire set of packages takes about 885 
> meg (if I'm 
> > reading du correctly), which is less than my very modest 
> collection of 
> > digital photos, and a tiny fraction of a 3-year-old standard hard 
> > disk.  In other words, it is no big deal to install all the 
> packages 
> > if you have your own computer.
> I am seeing about 520Mb for all base + CRAN packages under 
> 1.9.1, and it will be rather less under 2.0.0 as more parts 
> are stored compressed.
> BioC is a lot larger.
> It is however, a BIG deal to install *all* the packages and 
> am I currently 10 short since they depend on other software 
> that I do not have a licence for or will not compile (and 
> there are three others I cannot reinstall using current gcc). 
>  On AMD64 and Solaris there are several others, and something 
> like 20 do not install on Windows.  (I could use 
> --install-fake as the CRAN checks do, but I have the almost 
> complete set installed to test R changes, not test packages.)
> So I do see some merit in having a full-text search for R 
> help available at some URL, as Jonathan has kindly provided.
> -- 
> Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
> Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
> University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
> 1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
> Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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