Re: [S] Splus 3.3 vs 4.0 4.2 4.5 ...

Prof Brian D Ripley (
Sat, 23 May 1998 08:49:38 +0100 (BST)

This thread has gotten quite diffuse in the time Europe has been

All the announcements I have seen have been that the focus for the change
from 3.3 to 4.x for Windows was adding the GUI, and the current
development effort is going into porting S version 4 to produce S-PLUS 5.x
for Unix and 6.x for Windows. So there are big changes coming up on the
language side.

I still have 3.3 on my Windows machine and I still use it. 4.0 takes 45
seconds to start up, which is often longer than the calculation I want to
do. But I find the limited multitasking of its 16-bit nature and the lack
of long file names and the bugs corrected in later versions increasingly
frustrating. (4.0 starts up faster on a machine wih a lot more memory and
a faster disk, not options for my laptop.)

I think the active contributors of S-news have to accept that 4.x and the
GUI were not aimed at us. My take has been that if this was what was
needed to keep/make S-PLUS a commercial success we have to accept that it
has deflected development work from other things. Given there is a GUI,
it was obvious to me that it would need improving in the light of user
experience, hence 4.0 rel 2 & 3, and 4.5. There is still a lot you cannot
do in the GUI!

There have been some comparisons between R and S as languages. The R group
have been busy porting the V&R code recently, and this has thrown up for
me a major difference: the S language (and its quirks) is quite well
documented, but not even the R core group know (individually) what R will
do with certain quite common S constructs. As I see it, R differs in ways
that some of you will see as desirable, but almost as a consequence
differs in ways that no one wants. And the R version for Windows was
(when I looked recently) still well behind that for Unix.

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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