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Dorothy Bishop's picture
Joined: 02/04/2010 - 02:20

On the download page, where you tell people to install R, could you also point them to Rstudio.
It's free.
It makes the R interface more like Matlab and transforms the R experience. For those of us grappling with learning R alongside learning OpenMx, it makes an enormous difference.

tbates's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 14:25
Concur: why not a wikipage link to keep it up to date?

Sounds like a helpful idea: Perhaps to make it updatable, we should link to something like "You may also wish to download one of several available R front ends" and point to a wiki page on OpenMx that can list these with user-editable hints and comments.

Personally, I'll put in a plug for current versions of on OS X, esp with Hans Jorg Bibiko and Simon Urbanek working on this so hard recently.

We now have not only great tab-completion (functions of course, but also for variable names via $ and @ tab completion). But also really nice smart parameter insertion for all functions (push cntrl-.)
Very handy!

There is also automatic quote and bracket closing. And if you select a word and type quote or bracket, it is wrapped not overwritten.

History is filterable and grep-searchable.... lots of niceties plus all the basics of listing and viewing data files as spreadsheets, edit, view/manage packages etc.

I like having multiple resizable windows also.

Quite a few new additions too: if you drop a .sav file onto it, it completes the read.spss() function for you, and a very handy capability of cmd-clickable help examples (select anything in a help window, and you can execute it).

Anyhow: Each to their own, so let's link to something to point to all those "own" choices :-)

Dorothy Bishop's picture
Joined: 02/04/2010 - 02:20
various front ends

I had no idea there were other options, but I do think it would help beginners if you kept it simple.
I'm thinking of the kind of person who may be migrating from Mx but not be familiar with R .They may not know what a front-end is and won't want to be offered a choice. They just want to get up and running with R.
There's a danger of overwhelming people by attempting to be comprehensive.
So I'd suggest just pointing beginners to whichever front end you think is most user-friendly, and have a link for more experienced people pointing to other options.
Certainly Rstudio does it for me - had no idea it existed until Saturday and have been cheerfully using it since then. I've been asking around our department and very few R users are aware of any options other than the standard R interface, which is pretty offputting if you are used to working with something like Matlab.

neale's picture
Joined: 07/31/2009 - 15:14

What I like about Rstudio from a cursory glance is that it has a server edition, so one can use the same interface for working on a nice big cluster as one does for working locally on a PC. It looks like it has good MPI, snowfall and similar tool support for parallel processing.

My current personal preference is to use textmate on the mac, which has a number of really nice features, including multiple computer language (latex processing etc. too) support, command completion, and the ability to group a set of files one is working on in a project for later simultaneous reload. But each to their own and Rstudio has server support so I might switch just for that. Also, syntax highlighting for Windows users is pretty nice since this feature was missing from R itself last time I checked.

JWiley's picture
Joined: 03/25/2011 - 07:53
"options other than the

"options other than the standard R interface, which is pretty offputting if you are used to working with something like Matlab."

If you've been using the standard Matlab interface for Matlab, let me suggest matlab-emacs ( Once you're up and running Matlab through Emacs, Emacs + ESS makes the move to R about as tricky as adapting to a bigger monitor :p

In all seriousness, I like the idea of suggesting several options. True, it may be a bit overwhelming to beginners, but choice and flexibility is the spirit of R. There are some exciting developments coming to Deducer (GUI (+ console) front end to R). Once those come out (end of the year, I think), it may be another good option. It provides a flexible point and click interface to bring data in, but still allows users to use syntax. It could ease the burden of dealing with the data aspect of R for users just interested in OpenMx.