What Hath Von Neumann Wrought?

Skeptical musings of a reluctant cyborg

Computational Journalism Publishers Workbench 2.6.0 “A veiled threat!” Released

I’ve just pushed the latest release, 2.6.0, cutesy release code name “A veiled threat!”, to Github. As always you can file issues here. And if you’re interested in text / document mining, please join me for @jonathanstray’s Document Mining with Overview tutorial. If you miss the live webinar tomorrow, it will be recorded and you’ll be able to replay it any time.

What’s New?

  1. Cutesy release code name: “A veiled threat!”
  2. There is now a minimalist version of the workbench, which I call the “Base.” The base consists of the chosen Linux desktop, the command-line version of R and the GGobi data visualization system. Both R and GGobi are installed from the Linux distribution. This means that in principle any Linux distribution with both R and GGobi can be used, although I am still only supporting Fedora 18, Linux Mint 14 and Ubuntu 12.10.

    For the impatient, there is now a three-step process to get started:
    • Install a supported Linux desktop.
    • Download and unpack the install scripts.
    • Run the ‘install-base.bash’ script.
  3. All the R packages installed in R-platform and the options are installed for all users in a site library. See Managing Libraries for the details on how this works.
  4. Shiny Server is now included in the Node.js option.
  5. I’ve added more PDF tools to the ScrapingTools option.

    Road Map

  6. Next cutesy release code name: “Why, is one missing?”
  7. Riak is on hold for a bit. My highest priority right now is getting some test applications done using Shiny Server.
  8. Those who have been following my data and computational journalism projects over the past few years know that one of my long-term goals is for the tools to be available on Windows desktops / laptops. While I personally prefer Linux for numerous reasons, Windows is much more readily available in newsrooms.

This week, I discovered a project that brings me much closer to that goal. It’s an R package called installr. On a Windows R installation, ‘installr’ will update R to the latest stable version and install numerous other packages, all from the R console. This includes the MikTeX environment, RStudio Desktop, git and quite a few other tools. With ‘installr’ and RStudio, a Windows machine can become a first-class open source computational journalism platform just like a Linux desktop. Here’s the Github URL.

So I am looking at ways to integrate ‘installr’ into a spin-off of the workbench for Windows users. I’m not sure yet whether this will be a separate project or part of the Computational Journalism Publishers Workbench.

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