Technical Notes on the R programming language

by Sigal Blay

Calling C code from R, an introduction
R Grapics using the Grid Package
snow Simplified
Inspecting R package documentation
Building R packages from source code under Windows XP - minimum installation

Calling C code from R, an introduction

The functions .C and .Call. provide a standard interface to compiled code that has been linked into R. These functions are explored in the following presentation.
Seven detailed code examples are provided.

PowerPoint   Text file

R Graphics using the Grid Package

The grid package provides a low-level graphics system to produce reusable, editable graphical components.
PowerPoint   Text file

snow Simplified

The 'snow' package provides a high-level interface for using a workstation cluster for parallel computations in R. Here is a friendly user guide.
HTML   Text file

Inspecting R package documentation

(no need to check if all function arguments are documented or if a command below works - 'R CMD check' performs all these technichal tests automatically)
help(package=myPackge)   # display package DESCRIPTION file
                         # and list all functions and data sets in myPackage
help(function)           # display man/function.Rd file
example(function)        # run example in man/function.Rd
demo(package="myPackge") # list demos in package/demo
demo(demo_file)          # run demo/demo_file.R
data(package="myPackge") # list data files in package/data
help(data)               # display man/data.Rd
data(data)               # run data/data.R

Building R packages from source code under Windows XP - minimum installation:

Go to the web portal Building R for Windows.
Download and install:

Add R, tools, MinGW and HTML HELP to your PATH.
The subdirectories to add are something like:
   ActiveState adds Perl\bin to your path automatically
   docs says you should put tools\bin at the front of your path

To Add a directory to you PATH on Windows XP select
Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables
   Directories that include spaces in their name were not a problem on my 
   system. However, on other systems you may have to do the following:
   on the Windows command prompt 
   cd to a directory that includes that directory and type
   dir /x    to find the short form of the directory name.

To install a package, type at the Windows command prompt:
R CMD INSTALL --docs=none MyPkg
   if you want to install documentations, you need to 
   download and install htmlhelp.exe

Further reading:
Building R for Windows
(the path to your R installation) .../R/rw2000/README.packages

With comments and suggestions please contact Sigal Blay (
This work has been made possible by the Statistical Genetics Working Group at the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, SFU.