[ESS] help("foo") opens web browser but ?foo doesn't

Henrik Singmann henrik.singmann at psychologie.uni-freiburg.de
Wed Mar 13 16:04:18 CET 2013

Hi Vitalie,

The reason I prefer html help is mainly practically. When working with Emacs, I usually have one Emacs frame open with two windows on my main screen, Source plus R. Then, I would like to open all help pages in a separate window on a different screen.
This is no problem when using html help, as they simply open in a new tab in the browser.
In contrast when using emacs help, even when setting up another frame with the help file, the next help file will usually be opened in the frame that was the last one active and not in the designated one on the extra screen. So either the source or the R process is hidden and I need to reset the old behavior using some C-x o C-x <left/right> combinations.
Additionally, I like to klick on the "See also" links.

But as I said in the discussion a little further done in this thread, I figured the issue is caused by the following line which is always called at the beginning of any R process, seemingly by ESS:
options(chmhelp=FALSE, help_type="text")
If you could tell me which variable I have to alter to change this to help_type = "html" that would solve my problem.


Am 13.03.2013 15:42, schrieb Vitalie Spinu:
> Hi Henrik,
> On ?ESS, just asks R for ?foo. On C-c C-v and help("foo") it uses
> inferior-ess-r-help-command instead. This inconsistency is for
> historical reasons mainly. Nowadays there is no need for .help.ESS and
> it is just a wrapper for R's help. And indeed in long run ESS should
> better respect R's options(...).
> May I ask why do you prefer html help?  ESS help pages are superior in
> pretty much every respect I can think of.
>      Vitalie
>    >> Henrik Singmann <henrik.singmann at psychologie.uni-freiburg.de>
>    >> on Wed, 13 Mar 2013 12:49:26 +0100 wrote:
>    > Hi all,
>    > I know that similar questions have come up from time to time, but the solutions didn't fit my problem.
>    > I want ESS to display help pages always in the web browser and
>    > managed to do so partly thanks to SO
>    > (http://stackoverflow.com/q/2413163/289572) via
>    > '(inferior-ess-r-help-command ".help.ESS(\"%s\",
>    > help_type=\"html\")") in my custom variables in my .emacs
>    > However, the browser only opens for help("foo") but not ?foo.
>    > Any thoughts on how to open help in browser also for ?foo (or better always)?
>    > Many thanks,
>    > Henrik

Dipl. Psych. Henrik Singmann
PhD Student
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany

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