[Rd] Wish list

Duncan Murdoch murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Mon Jan 1 17:10:42 CET 2007

A few comments thrown in, and some general comments at the bottom.

On 1/1/2007 1:28 AM, Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
> This is my 2007 New Year wishlist for R features:
> 1. Matrix Multiplication
>    Enhance matrix multiplication to work with multidimensional
>    arrays such that the last dimension of the first multiplicand
>    must equal the first dimension of the second. See:
>    https://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2006-July/038497.html
> 2. Grid
>    - logical-valued function as first arg of grid.edit
>    - transparency under Windows (not sure if this involves grid
>      or just the Windows graphics device)
>    - shading patterns
>    - more interactivity features
>    - safe way to get name of a grid object, e.g.
>         names.vpPath <- names.viewport <- function(x) x$name
>    - safe way to get children of a grid object
>         getChildren.viewport <- function(x) x$children
>      and the order; see:
>      https://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2005-June/033532.html
>    - facility for using a name, viewport or vpPath interchangably
>      so that, for example, any of them can be specified in
>      in print.trellis(..., draw.in=...) or draw.key(..., vp=...)
> 3. Lattice.
>    - make panel functions generic
>    - allow print.trellis args to be specified in xyplot, etc.
>    - shading patterns (once grid implements them)
>    - safe way to access lattice:::getStatus and lattice:::updateList
>    - allow name, viewport or vpPath to be specified in draw.in=
>      arg of print.trellis (and vp= arg of draw.key?)
>    - document parameters, i.e. those output from trellis.par.get()
>    - support for groups in histogram
> 4. Higher level Windows clipboard functions.
>    Since R 2.3.0 R can handle non-text objects
> on the Windows clipboard.  We now need some higher
> level functionality that makes use of that
> to read in non-text from the clipboard.  For
> example, one can select a table on an HTML
> page in Internet Explorer and invoke copy
> and it will copy it to the clipboard in a
> non-text format.  If one invokes paste in
> Excel, Excel will automatically detect the
> non-text format and copy it in the expected
> way so that it appears in Excel one table
> cell per Excel cell.
> However, R does not currently
> support this level of integration. (Current
> workaround is to paste it into Excel and then copy
> it back out of Excel.  Excel will insert tabs between
> text that is so copied.)

R doesn't have HTML parsing built in, so this would be a fairly major 
addition.  It's a much better idea to write a package to do this.  If 
the R clipboard support is missing something that such a package would 
need, that would be a reasonable addition to R.

> 6. Allow attributes to be associated with an environment
> variable without having them associated with the environment
> itself.  This would allow more powerful inheritance in
> the case of subclasses of environment.
> See:
>   https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2006-July/038377.html
> and subsequent postings in that thread.  Any package
> that uses the list(env = whatever) idiom to define
> objects could make use of this.

As I said in that thread, this is not a good suggestion.

> 7. documentation standards for packages
>    - NEWS/ChangeLog (also should be accessible from CRAN page for package
>      and should be included in built version of package)
>    - package?mypackage

I don't understand the second part of this.  We already support a 
package?mypackage topic, and recommend that people put it in.  Are you 
saying packages should be rejected if they don't?  That's an awful lot 
of work you're asking other people to do.

> 8. Need to be able to distinguish between ordinary missing values
> and structurally missing ones.

I think this is something that you need to do in a different way.  There 
are tons of possible semantics for what NA should mean.  I don't think 
this should be made more complicated for everyone.

> 9. bidirectional pipes in Windows
> 10. Create a log updated at a regular frequency (daily or real time)
> that tracks all changes on CRAN, e.g.
> 	Date(GMT)           Package Version Action
> 	2006-09-20 21:22:01 mypkg   1.0.1   new
> 	2006-09-20 22:00:23 mypkg2  0.2.1   updated
> 11. make integrate generic.  Ryacas could use that.
> 12. Remove all R CMD dependencies on the find.exe command.  find is a built
>     in command in Windows and having find.exe on my path causes
>     problems with other programs.

A simpler fix for this would be for you to define a wrapper for R CMD 
that installed the R tools path before executing, and uninstalls it 
afterwards.  But this is unnecessary for most people, because 
Microsoft's find.exe is pretty rarely used.

> 13. Make upper/lower case of simplify/SIMPLIFY consistent on all
>     apply commands and add a simplify= arg to by.

It would have been good not to introduce the inconsistency years ago, 
but it's too late to change now.

> 14. better reporting of location of errors and warnings in R CMD check.

This is in the works, but probably not for 2.5.x.
> 15. tcl tile library (needs tcl 8.5 or to be compiled in with 8.4)
> 16. extend aggregate to allow vector valued functions:
>     aggregate(CO2[4:5], CO2[1:2], function(x) c(mean = mean(x), sd = sd(x)))
>     [summaryBy in doBy package and cast in reshape package can already
>     do similar things but this seems sufficiently fundamental that it
>     ought to be in the base of R]
> 17. All OSes should support input= arg of system.
> My previous New Year wishlists are here:
> https://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2006-January/035949.html
> https://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/2005-January/061984.html
> https://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2004-January/028465.html

To anyone still reading:

Many of the suggestions above would improve R, but they're unlikely to 
happen unless someone volunteers to do them.  I'd suggest picking 
whichever one of these or some other list that you think is the highest 
priority, and post a specific proposal to this list about how to do it. 
  If you get a negative response or no response, move on to the next 
one, or put it into a contributed package instead.

When you make the proposal, consider how much work you're asking other 
people to do, and how much you're volunteering to do yourself.  If 
you're asking others to do a lot, then the suggestion had better be 
really valuable to *them*.

Duncan Murdoch

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