[Rd] SystemRequirements (was DESCRIPTION and PACKAGES files )

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Thu Jul 27 11:16:43 CEST 2006

>>>>> "Allen" == Allen S Rout <asr at ufl.edu>
>>>>>     on 24 Jul 2006 12:27:39 -0400 writes:

    Allen> Seth Falcon <sfalcon at fhcrc.org> writes:
    >> For the Bioconductor project, we also wanted more
    >> information to be programatically available regarding the
    >> packages in a repository.  Instead of bloating the
    >> PACKAGES file, we put a separate file, VIEWS in our
    >> repository.  [...]
    >> So, if you were able to host a CRAN mirror, you could
    >> annotate it similarly.

    Allen> Thanks, Seth; I am hoping that I will be able to
    Allen> avoid introducing any new data to the PACKAGES
    Allen> stream.  So far, I'm doing all right with
    Allen> concatenating all the DESCRIPTIONS files from the
    Allen> Descriptions/ subdir of a CRAN mirror.

    Allen> I'm wondering about SystemRequirements, though; I
    Allen> ass-u-med from its mention in 'Writing R Extensions'
    Allen> that it was intended to have a format similar to
    Allen> Depends.  Some package authors seem to feel the same
    Allen> way, but many clearly do not.

    Allen> cran2ebuild $ grep -i systemre descs/PACKAGES


    Allen> So, 30-some out of 788 packages use
    Allen> SystemRequirements.  Clearly, a 'Depends'-esque
    Allen> format is the most popular, though there are several
    Allen> unparseable variants in the list.

    Allen> I'm suggesting a tighter formatting to a few authors,
    Allen> (i.e. the packages I happen to use right now) but I
    Allen> wonder if there is any central philosophical opinion
    Allen> on how that field ought to look?  If the Gods of R
    Allen> think that automated parsing of SystemRequirements is
    Allen> unimportant, I'll have to maintain them by hand.

I think some R-core members would welcome a detailed proposal on
how 'SystemRequirements' should be formatted -- maybe even
accompanied by R code to parse it.
That's a topic also quite well fit to be discussed in "this theatre"

Martin Maechler, ETH Zurich

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