[Rd] Recent and upcoming changes to R-devel

Mark.Bravington at csiro.au Mark.Bravington at csiro.au
Tue Jul 5 02:16:58 CEST 2011

I may have misunderstood, but: 

Please could we have an optional installation that does not *not* byte-compile base and recommended?

Reason: it's not possible to debug byte-compiled code-- at least not with the 'debug' package, which is quite widely used. I quite often end up using 'mtrace' on functions in base/recommended packages to figure out what they are doing. And sometimes I (and others) experiment with changing functions in base/recommended to improve functionality. That seems to be harder with BC versions, and might even be impossible, as best I can tell from hints in the documentation of 'compile').

Personally, if I had to choose only one, I'd rather live with the speed penalty from not byte-compiling. But of course, if both are available, I could install both.



Mark Bravington
CSIRO Mathematical & Information Sciences
Marine Laboratory
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Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> There was an R-core meeting the week before last, and various planned
> changes will appear in R-devel over the next few weeks. 
> These are changes planned for R 2.14.0 scheduled for Oct 31.  As we
> are sick of people referring to R-devel as '2.14' or '2.14.0', that
> version number will not be used until we reach 2.14.0 alpha.  You
> will be able to have a package depend on an svn version number when
> referring to R-devel rather than using R (>= 2.14.0).    
> All packages are installed with lazy-loading (there were 72 CRAN
> packages and 8 BioC packages which opted out).  This means that the
> code is always parsed at install time which inter alia simplifies the
> descriptions.  R 2.13.1 RC warns on installation about packages which
> ask not to be lazy-loaded, and R-devel ignores such requests (with a
> warning).     
> In the near future all packages will have a name space.  If the
> sources do not contain one, a default NAMESPACE file will be added. 
> This again will simplify the descriptions and also a lot of internal
> code.  Maintainers of packages without name spaces (currently 42% of 
> CRAN) are encouraged to add one themselves.
> R-devel is installed with the base and recommended packages
> byte-compiled (the equivalent of 'make bytecode' in R 2.13.x, but
> done less inefficiently).  There is a new option R CMD INSTALL
> --byte-compile to byte-compile contributed packages, but that remains
> optional.    
> Byte-compilation is quite expensive (so you definitely want to do it
> at install time, which requires lazy-loading), and relatively few
> packages benefit appreciably from byte-compilation.  A larger number
> of packages benefit from byte-compilation of R itself: for example
> AER runs its checks 10% faster.  The byte-compiler technology is
> thanks to Luke Tierney.     
> There is support for figures in Rd files: currently with a first-pass
> implementation (thanks to Duncan Murdoch). 

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