[Rd] RFC: 'igraph' package update and backward compatibility

Gábor Csárdi csardi at rmki.kfki.hu
Thu Oct 20 13:21:49 CEST 2011

Thanks for the insight!

It is indeed true that naming the new version 'igraph1' (this is a
better name for the change it introduces), is optimal for the existing

I was a bit reluctant to do this, because of two reasons. First,
igraph exists as a Python package, and a C library as well, and I was
afraid that it would cause confusion for users to have different names
for the different packages. I can already see the emails with people
asking questions about the difference between Python igraph and R
igraph1 and whether igraph1 is available for Python, etc.

The second reason was that I want users to use the newer version of
the package; I was afraid that most them would probably not notice
that there is a new version under a different name. But this issue is
neatly solved by a warning in the old package, as Rainer suggested.

Hmmmm, it is a hard decision. I think I'll just write an email to the
maintainers of the packages in question and see how many of them
responds. Maybe breaking a couple of unmaintained packages is not a
huge tragedy. But of course I can see the burden for CRAN maintainers
and don't want to exploit them.

Thank you,

On Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:27 AM, Prof Brian Ripley
<ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
> We've had examples of that approach (e.g. mclust02) and also of packages
> becoming foo2 (e.g. ggplot2).
> The problem is
>> ask package maintainers to depend on that version.
> In our experience that takes years to achieve!  I think that any solution
> which requires the maintainers of 50 others to submit new versions is going
> to cause a lot of work for the CRAN crew and not be very comprehensive.
> I do prefer the igraph2 route.  But you also need to be aware that would
> need igraph to be maintained for a long time to come: our experience with
> e.g. ncdf/ncdf4 is that the maintainers simply do not change.  (In the case
> of ggplot, the author did not even migrate his own dependent packages!)
> I think you should assume that a high proportion of packages are not
> actively maintained.
> Cc:ed to CRAN, since it is really Kurt's place to advise you what CRAN would
> like.
> Brian Ripley
> On Wed, 19 Oct 2011, Gábor Csárdi wrote:
>> Dear R developers,
>> I am seeking advice on some $subject matter.
>> My package will have an update soon, that is not backward compatible
>> with the current version. It will likely break much of the existing
>> code. Many (~50) packages depend on 'igraph' and they, too,  will most
>> probably break with the new version.
>> My intended solution is, that I create a snapshot of the current
>> package, under another name (igraph0), and ask package maintainers to
>> depend on that version. Then, after a short time, I'll update the
>> current igraph version.
>> Do you see any drawbacks of this solution? Is there some existing
>> practice for situations like this? Suggestions are greatly
>> appreciated.
>> Btw. an alternative would be to ask them to depend on the exact
>> current version of the package. This is an easier solution, but it
>> won't give people the opportunity to load both versions of the package
>> at the same time, if they want to run their old code.
>> Thank You, Best Regards,
>> Gabor
>> --
>> Gabor Csardi <csardi.gabor at gmail.com> Dept. Statistics, Harvard University
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
> --
> Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
> Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
> University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
> 1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
> Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

Gabor Csardi <csardi at rmki.kfki.hu>     MTA KFKI RMKI

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