[R-pkg-devel] Saving provenance data to the file system

Barbara Lerner blerner at mtholyoke.edu
Fri Aug 25 17:42:37 CEST 2017

We are working on a package that collects provenance as an R script 
executes, saving the provenance to the file system.  In reading the 
rules for submitting packages to CRAN, there is this rule:
> Packages should not write in the users’ home filespace, nor anywhere 
> else on the file system apart from the R session’s temporary directory 
> (or during installation in the location pointed to by |TMPDIR|: and 
> such usage should be cleaned up). Installing into the system’s R 
> installation (e.g., scripts to its bin directory) is not allowed. 
> Limited exceptions may be allowed in interactive sessions if the 
> package obtains confirmation from the user. 
To use our package, the R programmer calls a function that has an 
optional parameter to specify where the provenance is saved.  I have a 
few questions about whether this approach will pass CRAN or some other 
alternatives we have considered.

1. Currently, we save to the user's file space and provide an optional 
parameter to save the provenance somewhere else.  Is this acceptable?

2. A second alternative would be to have the default location be the R 
session's temporary directory.  To save in the user's file space, the 
user would need to provide a value for the optional parameter mention in 

3. A third alternative would be to do the same as #2 and also ask the 
user to confirm that they want to save the provenance before actually 
writing to the filesystem.

4. A fourth alternative would be to save the provenance in a database, 
which might or might not be on the user's computer.

I would appreciate advice on which of these options is likely to pass 
CRAN's rules.  Our package will be of little use if the provenance is 
not saved somewhere.

Thanks for any advice.


<http://www.getpostbox.com>Barbara Lerner
Associate Professor
Computer Science Department
Mount Holyoke College


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