[Rd] install.packages and dependency version checking

Kurt Hornik Kurt.Hornik at wu-wien.ac.at
Wed Dec 17 18:50:24 CET 2008

>>>>> Robert Gentleman writes:

> Hi,

Two quick (late) comments:

> Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
>> I've started to implement checks for package versions on dependencies in
>> install.packages().  However, this is revealing a number of
>> problems/misconceptions.
>> (A) We do not check versions when loading namespaces, ahd the namespace
>> registry does not contain version information.  So that for example
>> (rtracklayer)
>> Depends: R (>= 2.7.0), Biobase, methods, RCurl
>> Imports: XML (>= 1.98-0), IRanges, Biostrings
>> will never check the version of namespace XML that is loaded, either
>> already loaded or resulting from loading this package's namespace.  For
>> this to be operational we would need to extend the syntax of the
>> imports() and importsFrom() directive in a NAMESPACE file to allow
>> version restrictions. I am not sure this is worth doing, as an
>> alternative is to put the imported package in Depends.
>> The version dependence will in a future release cause an update of XML
>> when rtracklayer is installed, if needed (and available).

>       I think we need to have this functionality in both Imports and Depends,
>   see my response to another point for why.

>> (B) Things like (package stam)
>> Depends: R (>= 2.7.0), GO.db (>= 2.1.3), Biobase (>= 1.99.5), pamr (>=
>> 1.37.0), cluster (>= 1.11.10), annaffy (>= 1.11.5), methods (>=
>> 2.7.0), utils (>= 2.7.0)
>> are redundant: the versions of method and utils are always the same as
>> that of R.
>> And there is no point in having a package in both Depends: and Imports:,
>> as Biostrings has.

>   I don't think that is true.  There are cases where both Imports and Depends
> are reasonable.  The purpose of importing is to ensure correct resolution of
> symbols in the internal functions of a package. I would do that in almost all
> cases.  In some instances I want users to see functionality from another package
> - and I can then either a) (re)export those functions, or if there are lots of
> them, then b) just put the package also in Depends.  Now, a) is a bit less
> useful than it could be since R CMD check gets annoyed about these re-exported
> functions (I don't think it should care, the man page exists and is findable).

>> (C) There is no check on the version of a package suggested by
>> Suggests:, unless the package itself provides one (and I found no
>> instances).

>   It may be worthwhile, but this is a less frequent use case and I
> would prioritize it lower than having that functionality in Imports.

I think it would be good to have this too, because (see below) often
Suggests are used for "conditional Depends".

>> (D) We can really only handle >= dependencies on package versions (but
>> then I can see no other ops in use).  install.packages() will find the
>> latest version available on the repositories, and we possibly need to
>> check version requirements on the same dependency many times.  Given
>> that BioC has a penchant for having version dependencies on unavailable
>> versions (e.g. last week on IRanges (>= 1.1.7) with 1.1.4 available), we
>> may be able to satisfy the requirements of some packages and not others.
>> (In that case the strategy used is to install the latest available
>> version if the one installed does not suffice for those we can satisfy,
>> and report the problem(s).)

>   I suspect one needs = (basically as Gabor pointed out, some packages
>   have issues).

It would be good to support all comparison ops, I think (including !=).

Not something to be doable right away, but it would be very good to
allow for alternatives in dependency specs so that one can say things

    Depends: foo | bar

indicating that one needs foo or bar, and most likely that if neither is
there installing the first one should be attempted.


>> (E) One of the arguments that has been used to do this version checking
>> at install time is to avoid installing packages that cannot work. It
>> would be possible to extend the approach to do so, but I am going to
>> leave that to those who advocated it.
>> The net effect of the current changes will be that if there is a
>> dependence that is already installed but a later version is available
>> and will help satisfy a >= dependence, it will be added to the list of
>> packages to be installed.  As we have seen with Matrix this last week,
>> that can have downsides in stopping previously functional packages working.
>> This is work in progress: there is no way to write a test suite that
>> will encapsulate all the possible scenarios so weneed to get experience
>> until 2.9.0 is released.  Please report any quirks to R-devel if they
>> are completely reproducible (and preferably with the code change needed
>> to fix them, since the chance of anyone else being able to reproduce
>> them are fairly slim).
>   thanks
>     Robert

> -- 
> Robert Gentleman, PhD
> Program in Computational Biology
> Division of Public Health Sciences
> Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
> 1100 Fairview Ave. N, M2-B876
> PO Box 19024
> Seattle, Washington 98109-1024
> 206-667-7700
> rgentlem at fhcrc.org

> ______________________________________________
> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

More information about the R-devel mailing list