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

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Fri Sep 17 14:57:24 CEST 2004

Hi John et al.

I'm coming late to this thread (because of vacation),

>>>>> "JohnF" == John Fox <jfox at mcmaster.ca>
>>>>>     on Fri, 10 Sep 2004 10:56:51 -0400 writes:

    JohnF> Dear Brian et al.,

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

yes and yes.

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

\concept{}  was introduced for this

    JohnF> The keywords could be accessed by help.search() 

and this happens (by default) for \concept{} entries

    JohnF> and also compiled into an index.

this doesn't happen yet.

The ``real problem'' of course is that package authors need to
write all these \concept{} entries before such an index can
really become useful.

Martin Maechler

    >> -----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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