[Rd] Connections to https: URLs -- IE expert help needed

Kurt Hornik Kurt.Hornik at wu-wien.ac.at
Mon Jan 1 22:58:40 CET 2007

>>>>> Duncan Temple Lang writes:

> Hash: SHA1

> Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
>> I've added to R-devel the ability to use download.file() and url() to 
>> https: URLs, *only* if --internet2 is used on Windows.
>> This uses the Internet Explorer internals, and only works if the 
>> certificate is accepted (so e.g. does not work for 
>> https://svn.r-project.org).
>> Now I use IE (and Windows for that matter) only when really necessary, and 
>> Firefox has simple ways to permanently accept non-verifiable certificates. 
>> I would be grateful if someone who is much more familiar with IE could 
>> write a note explaining how to deal with this that we could add to the 
>> rw-FAQ.
>> To forestall the inevitable question: there are no plans to add https: 
>> support on any other platform, but it is something that would make a nice 
>> project for a user contribution.  The current internal code is based on 
>> likxml2, and that AFAICS still does not have https: support.

> Generally (i.e. not in particular response to Brian but related to
> this thread)

With a similar disclaimer: Brian's efforts were triggered by me asking
how to use url() to read R's mailing list archive files, such as


directly into R.  Turns out we cannot ... which, in a way, is a shame
("R cannot read its own web pages") :-(


> An alternative is to use RCurl and leave HTTPS and a host of other
> protocols and details to an external library (e.g. libcurl, libwww,
> etc.) and an R package that interfaces to it.

> If we want the facilities to be accessible via the connections
> interface, then we can make that API extensible by packages.  Jeff
> Horner has a proposal on that.

> Generally, it is important if R is to continue to evolve that the R
> internals become extensible by package developers so that we can do
> some new experiments and provide alternative implementations of the
> basic structures rather than being tied to the existing
> representation.  An object oriented framework underlying the R source
> code would enable this and would solve numerous problems that have
> arisen recently and I strongly suspect many more that will arise.

>  D.

> - --
> Duncan Temple Lang                    duncan at wald.ucdavis.edu
> Department of Statistics              work:  (530) 752-4782
> 4210 Mathematical Sciences Building   fax:   (530) 752-7099
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