[Rd] Wish list

Duncan Murdoch murdoch at stats.uwo.ca
Tue Jan 2 01:32:29 CET 2007

On 1/1/2007 12:59 PM, Charles C. Berry wrote:
> On Mon, 1 Jan 2007, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> 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. [deleted thru 12]
>>> 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.
> Really? The consistency issue only concerns mapply, I think.

mapply and its wrapper Vectorize, and perhaps some functions in 
contributed packages.

> How 'bout changing the formals of mapply to
> $FUN
> $...
> $MoreArgs
> simplify
> [1] TRUE
> $simplify
> [1] TRUE
> i.e. add simplify = TRUE and change SIMPLIFY's default to 'simplify'
> Then the default behavior is retained, specifying a value for 
> either SIMPLIFY or simplify gives the desired behavior and SIMPLIFY takes 
> precedence over simplify if both are given values. Not pretty, perhaps, 
> but it does the job.

This allows mapply(..., simplify=TRUE), but is that really "the job"?  I 
think the point of consistency is to make code easier to read and write, 
and I'm not sure making this one parameter partially case-insensitive 
achieves that.  Should the same thing be done to the functions that 
currently use "simplify", to achieve even more consistency?  Yecch.

> I suppose this could get one into trouble if one of the ... args is named 
> 'simplify', but I do not imagine that is a big deal.

I think the reasoning behind the choice of SIMPLIFY was probably to 
avoid a clash with one of the ... args.

I'd prefer a more general solution to this problem, like what the Mac 
GUI does, and giving argument hints as a function call is being typed. 
(I think ESS may do this too, but I don't use it.)  There are lots of 
inconsistencies in R functions, and I think making the syntax looser in 
order to accept a consistent superset is not the right approach: 
instead, the editor should make it easier for a user to discover what is 
appropriate in any given context.

Duncan Murdoch

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