[S] Warning: GUI Spreadsheet editor full of bugs

Gunter, Bert (bert_gunter@merck.com)
Fri, 25 Sep 1998 09:23:57 -0400


To all:

Just had an unpleasant experience trying to use S-Plus's (4.5, professional,
under Nt4.0) gui spreadsheet editor to enter data. My experience was: it's a
mess! Don't use it. Here's what happened:

I tried to first name 4 columns in the GUI data frame editor. Unless I hit
<enter> after entering the name at the top of the column, I got all kinds of
error messages. However, the spreadsheet showed the names entered. I wanted
to enter the data in only one column and then fill the others with regular
sequences of indices (the usual simple flat file format). I did this and the
other unentered columns filled with NA's. I then closed the spreadsheet and
tried to print it from the command line. This showed a spreadsheet with only
one column instead of 4 (The NA columns were lost). Opening the spreadsheet
in the browser, however, the NA's showed. I then filled in the column
sequences MANUALLY (ugh -- but not much data). The command line printing
showed the data but did not have the names for the columns. Moreover, there
were NA's in the first row even the the browser showed non-NA entries, so
apparently the browser and object storage representations get unsynchronized
somewhere along the line.

Then I tried to open the spreadsheet again. This time the data that i
entered was gone! Back to the command line. The data were gone there, too!
?$$%%! It's obvious that S-Plus has not figured out how to synchronize the
stored data frame with whatever the spreadsheet is trying to do.

Anyway, this is far too simple a task to put up with this nonsense, and I
did nothing that was unusual. This appears to be yet another example of the
difficulty S-Plus has had trying to integrate "standard" gui functionality
into S-Plus. I endorse the effort, but, for the moment, it ain't ready for
prime time so far as I'm concerned. I'll stick with the command line, at
least when it comes to data entry. Of course, like most list readers I
suspect), the gui would be for me only occasional useful (though it is
essential for the scientists with whom I collaborate if they are to use the
software), and I'd abandon S-Plus like a shot if they ever gave up the
command interface.

Hope this saves someone else some pain.

-- Bert Gunter
Merck & Co.

The views expressed here are personal and not endorsed by Merck & Co. in any
way.

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