[R] the making of _R_ eBooks

John Maindonald john.maindonald at anu.edu.au
Tue Mar 24 22:31:39 CET 2015

Thanks for that.  Useful to have that question asked and to get that

John Maindonald             email: john.maindonald at anu.edu.au<mailto:john.maindonald at anu.edu.au>

On 25/03/2015, at 0:00, r-help-request at r-project.org<mailto:r-help-request at r-project.org> wrote:

From: John McKown <john.archie.mckown at gmail.com<mailto:john.archie.mckown at gmail.com>>
Subject: Re: [R] the making of _R_ eBooks
Date: 24 March 2015 1:36:38 NZDT
To: "Dr. Wolfgang Lindner" <lindnerw at t-online.de<mailto:lindnerw at t-online.de>>
Cc: Help R <r-help at r-project.org<mailto:r-help at r-project.org>>

On Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 3:50 AM, Dr. Wolfgang Lindner
<lindnerw at t-online.de<mailto:lindnerw at t-online.de>> wrote:
Dear list members,

I like the look and feel of the eBook versions of the R manuals very much.
So I would like to generate eBooks (teaching material etc) in that look.

I am not an expert. But I have looked at the source, so I can give you
some information.

Q1: is there a description how the _R_ ebooks have been produced?

Looking at the source, it appears that the source manuals are in a
document markup language called "GNU Texinfo".
You can think of this as something akin to, but different from, HTML
or "markdown" encoding. Texinfo is an evolution by the system first
designed by Richard Stallman of MIT. He is the driving force behind
the GPL and most of the GNU software which forms the basis of the user
space commands for Linux and the *BSD operating systems. Texinfo is
then converted to TeX. TeX is the typesetting language designed by Dr.
Donald Knuth. TeX, nominally, is converted into a DVI printer control
language (DeVice Independent). But in the case of creating a PDF file,
there is a processor called "pdftex",
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PdfTeX, which produces a PDF file as
output . A good site for TeX is https://tug.org/

Texinfo has the plus of also having processor which will convert it to
UNIX "man" (manual) pages and HTML web pages. So one "source" document
can generate three different types of output document file types.

Most people use a enhanced TeX called LaTeX instead of "plain TeX"
when using TeX. LaTeX can be read up on here:
http://www.latex-project.org/ A good TeX document processor is
TeXstudio at http://texstudio.sourceforge.net/ . I use this one myself
(which is not necessary a strong endorsement because I'm nobody

I feel the need to warn you that TeX is very powerful and, at least to
me, quite difficult, with a fairly step learning curve. Which may be
why the R project uses Texinfo because it is quite a bit easier to

Q2: which (free) software was used for them?

See the links above. On Fedora Linux, I get the TeX oriented software
from a bunch of packages which start with "texlive". More information,
including the processors for Linux, Windows, and Mac are at

Q3: any other recommendations?

You might consider LyX.
LyX is a document processor. It would likely be easier to use than the
above if you are used to MS Word or other word processing system. It
is cross platform: Linux, Windows, and Mac. It stores files in its own
textual format, which is somewhat human readable. LyX, like Texinfo,
translates its format into TeX as an intermediate on its way to its
ultimate destination. I am still learning LyX, but I personally like

Your mention of LibreOffice is also a fairly good one. I, personally,
use LibreOffice. But I don't use it for big documents. I have a
learned aversion for word processors because it is so easy for them to
be misused. In my opinion, a good document needs good metadata in it
as well as just "looking pretty". Word processor users tend to focus
on the format and not the content. That's just my opinion, based on
what I've seen where I work.

Seaching the internet gives me e.g.
[2]  opensource.com/life/13/8/how-create-ebook-open-source-way<http://opensource.com/life/13/8/how-create-ebook-open-source-way>
[3] http://scottnesbitt.net/ubuntublog/creating-a-ebook-with-libreoffice-writer/

but I m not sure, if there are better possibilities..

Thanks for any hint or link by expert R users.

Oh, well, that excludes me. I'm not an expert. But maybe it was helpful anyway.

Wolfgang Lindner
Leichlingen, Germany

If you sent twitter messages while exploring, are you on a textpedition?

He's about as useful as a wax frying pan.

10 to the 12th power microphones = 1 Megaphone

Maranatha! <><
John McKown

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