[S] Don't use `version' as an object name on S-PLUS 4.5

Bill Venables (wvenable@attunga.stats.adelaide.edu.au)
Thu, 2 Jul 1998 10:04:47 +0930


The following infelicities have been reported to MathSoft, but I
think they should be fairly widely disseminated, quickly.

I have just given a short course on S-PLUS using S-PLUS 4.5
release 1 (Professional). I noticed that there is an
automatically generated object called `version' in frame 0, so to
illustrate the extended search path idea I (very foolishly, it
turned out) invited the students to do the following

> version
> version <- 0 ## DON'T do this at home or anywhere else!
> version

to show that the assignment had not changed the visible value of
of the object `version'.

Well it did work as expected up to a point, but the next time the
students tried to re-start S-PLUS in that working directory they
got a lot of complaints and a little pop-up screen inviting them
to "enter input", no S-PLUS!

It took ages to track down even the cause of the problem, and of
course the students found a way round it well before I did. The
only sure solution we found is the drastic one of clearing the
_Data directory of all objects and ancillary files (directly,
using the Windows file manager tools) and then starting S-PLUS
again. Even getting rid of the pop-up window also requires some
determined clicking of "cancel".

This is probably more extreme than is needed, but at least you
must (a) remove the `version' object file, (b) remove the __sum*
files and (c) adjust the ___nonfi file to reflect any changes.
(NOT a procedure to be recommended under any circumstances!)

Two other small blotches in an otherwise nice implementation we
noticed were:

* options() did not work in .First functions, (though other things
did).

* you could change certain graphics options, such as the
background colour for brush and spin _once only_ per session.
If you tried to change it more than once, the information was
recorded, it seemed, but no change took effect until S-PLUS was
re-started. (I hope S-PLUS does not start acquiescing to the
Microsoft philosophy of "when in doubt, reboot the system"...)

Bill Venables.
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