R and R commander
R is a statistical package widely used by professional statisticians. It has been described as “a statistical programming language” because a series of commands can be run in order to do the required analysis.
It is “command driven”, i.e. there is a prompt and commands need to be entered either interactively or they can be written in a text editor or the provided script file and then run. For this reason, it is very flexible but also difficult to use because the language has to be learned.
R has the great advantage that it is free and can be downloaded to a laptop or notebook computer running Windows, Unix or the Mac operating system. There are some manuals accessed from the Help menu in the user interface.
In contrast, most statistical packages for non-statisticians are menu-driven, which makes them much easier to use.
R-Commander (Rcmdr) is a menu-driven front end to R designed for teaching purposes. It is much easier to learn than R, but it lacks the flexibility of a command driven package. However, it is a good starting point for learning to use R for anyone likely to need to do statistical analysis during their scientific career.
NB. When installing R do a “Custom” installation and check the “SDI” not the “MDI” version otherwise Rcmdr will not run correctly. However, it is possible to change from MDI to SDI after installing R and instructions for doing so are given in the instructions for installing R.
R can be installed in any location and can even be run from a USB stick.
R-Commander is installed from within R using the menu Packages->install and choosing Rcmdr from among the many packages available. It takes a long time (15-20 mins?) the first time as many additional packages have to be installed (this happens automatically)
Once Rcmdr is installed, it is invoked by typing “library(Rcmdr)” (case sensitive).