[ESS] feature request: shell support

Andreas Leha andreas.leha at med.uni-goettingen.de
Thu Oct 10 22:07:18 CEST 2013

As I wrote the feature request, let me comment a bit.

I completely understand your point.  And since (unfortunately) it won't
be me who implements shell support in ess, I of course accept your

That said, see my inline comments below.

Rodney Sparapani <rsparapa at mcw.edu> writes:

> On 10/10/2013 02:15 AM, Rainer M Krug wrote:
>>> >Otherwise, it wouldn't be difficult to add.
>> Then I would suggest to add it. Another option would be (but I don't know
>> if this is possible, and it seems to go along the lines of what you
>> mention below) to add it to an additional package which is loaded
>> on top of ESS and extends it.
> Well then...  Although I am an ESS developer, this is only my
> personal opinion.  I too find myself writing Bourne shell scripts
> (for the last 20 years now ;o)  However, I feel that the emacs
> community is well aware of the Bourne shell and its imitators.

Can you point to any emacs shell support, that comes close to what ess
can do for real (?) statistical languages in terms of connecting the
script with a process?

> IMHO the ESS developers want to fill the niche that
> statisticians and statistical programmers/analysts find
> in emacs.  There are a lot of things that would be nice to
> have that we are not going to be able to add due to time,
> warm bodies, climate change, etc.

As also others have argued, shell scripting can be seen as being part of
the full statistical workflow.  I assume, you'd not want to do your real
(?) statistical scripting without ess' support for sending code from
your script to the process.  Why would you not want similar support for
the part of the data analysis, that is done in the shell?
So, the step to shell support, for me, is a natural one, the step to
climate change is not.

I completely agree, that exposing the relevant parts of ess and re-using
them for shell (or other languages) might be the cleaner way of doing
things.  But again, I think that shell scripts are important enough for
a statistical workflow to justify even direct support in ess.

>>> >
>>> >Some time ago we discussed about rewriting ESS from scratch. If such a
>>> >thing ever happens, the sub-process handling will be an independent
>>> >module that any scripting language can easily customize for it's own
>>> >needs.
>> That would be really brilliant.
> When we get to that point (and I feel it is a ways off yet),
> then we could re-consider.  Normally, at this point, I would
> say glibly "patches welcome".  However, I don't think they
> really are right now.  Whenever we accept a patch, then we
> end up maintaining it (except in the rare exception when we
> can convince the author to stick around).  So, I personally
> am in no hurry; I would postpone this until the rewrite is
> complete when we can consider what languages to add then.

This already sounds as if such a rewrite will definitely happen -- even
if ways off.  That is nice.

> I have my doubts whether the Bourne shell will be able to compete
> for attention with julia, polymode, SLIME[R] and/or whatever new
> fangled flavor of the month the kids come up with.  But that's
> just the opinion of one eternal pessimist.

Given that you have done shell scripts for 20 years, you probably agree,
that shell scripting is not one of the 'new fangled flavor[s] of the

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