[ESS] the R help system

Spencer Graves spencer.graves at pdf.com
Thu Sep 25 04:53:34 CEST 2008

      For me, the response to requesting help with a conflict (described 
below) depends on the specific history in that session.  I also have 
another problem with ESS that may be related: 


      If I try "select.list(letters[1:2])" in a new R session, it locks 
up.  If I do [<ctrl>-g, <ctrl>-c, <ctrl>-c] multiple times, it 
eventually comes unlocked.  After that, if I repeat 
"select.list(letters[1:2])", it seems to work fine. 


      I get several different responses to a request for help for 
something with a conflict:  Sometimes it locks up.  At other times, I've 
gotten a separate window with a selection box, which I think I should 
get.  More often, I get the list of options in a separate split buffer 
but with no ability to select which one I want.  For example, the "zoo" 
package has a function "as.zoo.numeric" that masks the function of that 
name in the "base" package.  If I request help('as.zoo.numeric', 
'base'), that help page scrolls by in the "*R* *" buffer.  At other 
times, when I request help for "as.zoo.numeric", I get a message that no 
such help exists: 

No documentation for 'as.zoo.numeric' in specified packages and libraries:
you could try 'help.search("as.zoo.numeric")'

(This is with the 'zoo' package clearly in the search path.) 

      Is there some better way to manage or overcome these problems? 



Running ESS 5.3.8 with
GNU Emacs 22.3.1 (i386-mingw-nt5.1.2600)
 of 2008-09-06 on SOFT-MJASON

R version 2.7.2 (2008-08-25)

LC_COLLATE=English_United States.1252;LC_CTYPE=English_United 
States.1252;LC_NUMERIC=C;LC_TIME=English_United States.1252

attached base packages:
[1] stats     graphics  grDevices utils     datasets  methods   base    

Kasper Daniel Hansen wrote:
> I have two things which are either enhancement requests or just me not 
> doing the right thing. Both are related to the R help system. My 
> examples below are for a S4 class from package Biobase, but it should 
> be generally applicable.
> 1) S4 classes. If I do C-c C-v and try to find the help page on the 
> class ExpressionSet, I can get the help page if I type 
> "ExpressionSet-class", but not via TAB completion. If I (from the R 
> command prompt) type ?"ExpressionSet-class" I get a normal help page 
> buffer, but if I do class?ExpressionSet, the help is printed in the R 
> buffer instead of its own window.
> 2) conflicting help pages. If I have two packages, both with a help 
> page linking to the same term (an excellent example right now is the 
> Bioconductor package "affy" and the help page for image), I used to 
> get an annoying tcltk window popping up. It was annoying and slow, but 
> worked. Recently I put the following in my Rprofile
>   options(menu.graphics = FALSE)
> If I now do ?image from an R session, the little selection menu is not 
> displayed at the R prompt, but rather in a separate read-only help 
> buffer. If I try to do C-c C-v image, the same happens.
> Kasper
> ______________________________________________
> ESS-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/ess-help

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