Commit ef10f15e authored by Christophe Rhodes's avatar Christophe Rhodes
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#+TITLE: swankr: SWANK (and SLIME) for R
#+AUTHOR: Christophe Rhodes
#+EMAIL: csr21@cantab.net
* Introduction
This is swankr, an implementation of the swank[fn:1] protocol for
R[fn:2]. While the coverage of swank protocol functions is
currently limited, enough is implemented for swankr to be useful: at
the very minimum, it can be used to develop and extend itself.
** Relationship with ESS
Emacs Speaks Statistics[fn:3] provides an interaction mode for R
(among other statistical software packages), including an interface
to R's toplevel, and keybindings to send input to R, to look up
documentation, and so on. Where it differs most noticeably from
swankr is in the level of integration of various facilities with
emacs: ESS uses the browser() debugger, whereas swankr provides its
own debugger, sldb; swankr provides a custom REPL with hooks for
common commands; and so on. For Lisp programmers, perhaps the most
useful analogy is to say that swankr is to ESS what SLIME is to
ILISP. At present, however, ESS mode remains active in R source
buffers, providing font-locking functionality among other things.
* Installation
** Running
To begin using swankr:
1. start R;
2. load the swank.R file:
#+BEGIN_SRC R
source("swank.R")
#+END_SRC
3. at the R prompt, run
#+BEGIN_SRC R
swank();
#+END_SRC
4. within emacs, load and initialize slime;
5. run slime-connect, accepting the default host and port, and
acknowledging the protocol version mismatch.
At this point, a R REPL should appear.
** Emacs customization
At a minimum, slime needs to be set up to function. I've
used the following forms in my =~/.emacs=
#+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(require 'slime)
(slime-setup '(slime-repl slime-scratch))
#+END_SRCA
In addition, for keybindings like =C-c C-c= to work properly, emacs
needs to be told how to guess where a function definition begins.
This can be achieved with /e.g./
#+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(add-hook 'ess-mode-hook
(lambda ()
(setq defun-prompt-regexp "^\\(\\(\\sw\\|\\s_\\)+\\|\\s\"\\S\"+\\s\"\\)\\s-*\\(=\\|<-\\)\\s-*function\\s-*(.*)\\s-*")))
#+END_SRC
Fontification of quoted function names is suboptimal by default in
ESS; the following form in =~/.emacs= fixes that for ESS 5.11.
#+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(eval-after-load "ess-common"
(setq ess-R-mode-font-lock-keywords
(append
(list '("\\(\\sw\\|\\s_\\)+\\s-*\\(=\\|<-\\)\\s-*function"
1 font-lock-function-name-face t)
'("\\s\"\\(\\S\"+\\)\\s\"\\s-*\\(=\\|<-\\)\\s-*function"
1 font-lock-function-name-face t))
ess-R-mode-font-lock-keywords)))
#+END_SRC
* Development
swankr's primary development repository is a git repository,
accessible through
<http://common-lisp.net/r/users/crhodes/swankr.git> and
git://common-lisp.net/crhodes/swankr/swankr.git; a web view of the
development history is [[http://common-lisp.net/gitweb?p=users/crhodes/swankr.git][available through gitweb]].
* Acknowledgments
Thanks to my colleagues at [[http://www.gold.ac.uk/][Goldsmiths, University of London]], for
suggesting that I investigate R for numerical and graphical
investigations, and to my colleagues at [[http://www.teclo.net/][Teclo Networks AG]] for giving
me motivation to get around to it. Initial development was done at
the [[http://ismir2010.ismir.net/][International Symposium on Music Information Retrieval]], which I
attended (indirectly) thanks to the EPSRC-funded [[http://www.omras2.org/][OMRAS2]] research
project and the [[http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk][University of London External System]]; Helmut Eller's
partial implementation of swank for Ruby was an excellent blueprint
to get development started.
* Footnotes
[fn:1] part of SLIME, the Superior Lisp Interaction Mode for Emacs:
<http://common-lisp.net/project/slime/>.
[fn:2] a free software environment for statistical computing and
graphics: <http://www.r-project.org/>.
[fn:3] also known as ESS, an emacs mode for interacting with a number
of statistical software packages, including R:
<http://ess.r-project.org/>.
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