[R-pkg-devel] R_registerRoutines, etc.

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Sun Apr 23 11:57:06 CEST 2017

On 22/04/2017 5:25 PM, Rolf Turner wrote:
> I have, like many others it would appear, been struggling with
> the new-ish convention of requiring --- or quasi-requiring --- that
> "routines" be "registered" and the warning generated by R CMD check to
> the effect:
>> Found no calls to: 'R_registerRoutines', 'R_useDynamicSymbols'
>> It is good practice to register native routines and to disable symbol
>> search.
>> See 'Writing portable packages' in the 'Writing R Extensions' manual.
> Well, the material in the "Writing R Extensions" manual is completely
> incomprehensible to the human mind, which is what I'm equipped with.
> However I found a posting by Ege Rubak on this topic which sent me by a
> slightly roundabout route to a posting by Dirk Eddelbuttel
> which told me to use package_native_routine_registration_skeleton() from
> the tools package.
> After a bit more struggle, I found that that did the trick.  I have,
> however, a couple of questions remaining.
> (1) I found that having an R function with the same name as that of a
> routine (Fortran subroutine in this case) that it called, causes all
> sorts of chaos.  I had a function "binsrt" that called a Fortran
> subroutine named "binsrt" and a function "mnnd" that called a Fortran
> subroutine named "mnnd".  This induced several fairly mysterious
> warnings.  I resolved the issue by renaming the R functions "binsrtR"
> and "mnndR" respectively, so as to eliminate the name conflict.
> Would this be the recommended procedure, or is there a cleverer way to
> eliminate the problem?

I think renaming the Fortran would make more sense:  the R routine may 
be used by your package users, whereas the Fortran routine may only be 
used by the R routine.  But there are probably lots of exceptions to this.

> (2) The help for package_native_routine_registration_skeleton() says:
>> Optionally the skeleton will include declarations for the registered
>> routines: they should be checked against the C/Fortran source code, not
>> least as the number of arguments is taken from the R code. For .Call and
>> .External calls they will often suffice, but for .C and .Fortran calls
>> the void * arguments would ideally be replaced by the actual types.
> OTOH a post from Ege Rubak (answering a question like unto mine from
> another user) basically says "Don't bother.  It doesn't really matter."
> However, being a Good Little Boy, I like to follow instructions exactly.
>   So I tried to replace the "void *" strings by the "actual types", but
> then all hell broke loose.  Consequently I went back to the "void *"
> structures.  That appears to work, but:
>     (a) Are there any perils lurking if one just leaves "void *" as is,
>         throughout?

Not immediately, but a couple of potential ones:

  - If you change the type of something in the future, "void *" won't 
care, but the compiler might catch a the change if you were more explicit.

  - R CMD check generally becomes stricter over time, so it's possible 
it will complain about "void *" in the future.

>     (b) For the sake of completeness, how *does* one replace the "void *"
>         constructions with "actual types" in a correct manner?
>          Example:  In my init.c file I currently have (as produced by
>          package_native_routine_registration_skeleton()) :
>> extern void F77_NAME(mnnd)(void *, void *, void *, void *, void *);
>          The code in mnnd.f reads:
>> subroutine mnnd(x,y,n,dminbig,dminav)
>> implicit double precision(a-h,o-z)
>> .....
>          I.e. the "actual types are "double precision",
>          "double precision", "integer", "double precision",
>          "double precision".
>          So in this case I should (?) replace
>> extern void F77_NAME(mnnd)(void *, void *, void *, void *, void *);
>          by .... what?  Can anyone tell me?

Looks like

extern void F77_NAME(mnnd)(double *, double *, int *, double *, double *);

to me.

Duncan Murdoch

> Thanks.
> cheers,
> Rolf Turner

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