[R-pkg-devel] tibbles are not data frames

J C Nash profjcnash at gmail.com
Wed Sep 27 01:21:56 CEST 2017

Duncan's observation is correct. The background work to the standards
I worked on was a big effort, and the content was a lot smaller than R,
though possibly similar in scope to dealing with the current question.
The "voting" was also very late in the process, after the proposals
were developed, discussed and written, so more a confirmation of a
decision than a vote to do some work.

On the other hand, I do think such effort has to be made from time to
time. On this particular matter I don't feel well-suited. However, the
collective body of material that is R is mostly a result of those of us
who are willing to put out the effort, particularly R-core members.


On 2017-09-26 07:00 PM, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
> On 26/09/2017 4:52 PM, Jens Oehlschlägel wrote:
>> On 26.09.2017 15:37, Hadley Wickham wrote:
>>> I decided to make [.tibble type-stable (i.e. always return a data
>>> frame) because this behaviour causes substantial problems in real data
>>> analysis code. I did it understanding that it would cause some package
>>> developers frustration, but I think it's better for a handful of
>>> package maintainers to be frustrated than hundreds of users creating
>>> dangerous code.g
>>> Hadley
>> If that is right -- and I tend to believe it is right -- this change had
>> better been done in R core and not on package level. I think the root of
>> this evil is design inconsistencies of the language together with the
>> lack of removing these inconsistencies. The longer we hesitated, the
>> more packages such a change could break. The lack of addressing issues
>> in R core drives people to try to solve issues on package level. But now
>> we have two conflicting standards, i.e. a fork-within-the-language: Am I
>> a member of the tidyverse or not? Am I writing a package for the
>> tidyverse or for standard-R or for both. With a fork-of-the-language we
>> would at least have a majority vote for one of the two and only the
>> fitter would survive. But with a fork-within-the-language 'R' gets more
>> and more complex, and working with it more and more difficult. There is
>> not only the tidyverse, also the Rcppverse and I don't know how many
>> other verses. If there is no extinction of inconsistencies in R, not
>> sufficient evolution in R, but lots of evolution in Julia, evolution
>> will extinct R together with all its foobarverses in favor of Julia (or
>> Python). May be that's a good thing.
>> I think tibble should respect drop=TRUE and respect the work of all
>> package authors who wrote defensive code and explicitly passed drop=
>> instead of relying on the (wrong) default. Again: better would be a
>> long-term clean-up roadmap of R itself and one simple standard called
>> 'data.frame'. Instead of forking or betting on any particular
>> foobarverse: why not have direct democratic votes about certain critical
>> features of such a long-term roadmap in such a big community?
> I think R Core would not be interested in a vote, because you'd be voting to give them work to do, and that's really rude.
> What would have a better chance of success would be for someone to write a short article describing the proposal in
> detail, and listing all changes to CRAN and Bioconductor packages that would be necessary to implement it.  That's a lot
> of work!  Do you have time to do it?
> Duncan Murdoch
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