[ESS] need help locating an old thread

Christophe Rhodes csr21 at cantab.net
Tue Feb 8 22:22:06 CET 2011

Rodney Sparapani <rsparapa at mcw.edu> writes:

> On 02/ 7/11 05:21 PM, Christophe Rhodes wrote:
>> Hi!  It's on hold at the moment, in the sense that I don't have an
>> immediate need for it.  On the other hand, it is very much "unfinished
>> business", in the sense that it is very nearly useful.  The current
>> state is pretty much encapsulated in
>> <http://common-lisp.net/~crhodes/swankr/>.  If there's excitement or
>> enthusiasm, I'm happy to take a more active role -- it's stalled because
>> it's at that point where it needs a bit more investment of time than I
>> can give it alone, but given a bit of a kick I think it could be really
>> cool.
> For the sad and demented like myself, could some one explain what
> advantages swank/SLIME might bring to ESS?  I'm probably not going to
> do anything about it, but I would like to hear more.

Well, here's the short version: by communicating using a dedicated
protocol rather than over text (through the comint-style buffer), it is
possible to communicate the semantics of certain outputs
(e.g. evaluation results) rather than having to infer them after the
fact by depending on a particular form of the prompt, or similar.

This means that you can do fun things such as have a lattice object (or
a linear model, or whatever) be presented in an emacs buffer as a
picture, or a table, or whatever makes sense -- while maintaining the
association between that buffer representation (text or image) and the
underlying R (I almost wrote "lisp" :-) object.  So for instance you can
use the mouse to interact with these "presentations" too, to use them as
input to subsequent R interactions.

Bit difficult to describe really.  The basic idea is "everything is an
object", to contrast with the Unix approach of "everything is a stream
of bytes".  (Emacs/comint is a bit in the middle)



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