[R-pkg-devel] CRAN student assistants

Jennifer Bryan jenny@|@bry@n @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Wed May 15 16:40:47 CEST 2019


Since this has turned into a worldwide code review, I will briefly address
that, then reiterate the point of the original message.

I am working on an initial release of a package. It reveals information to
a user, sometimes in a print method-y way, sometimes in more of a verbose /
debugging way that is under control of a documented option, which defaults
to "off" or "quiet". For now, I have chosen to send all of this output
through a single functions that, yes, uses cat(). I went this direction for
an initial release to keep the package simple and accumulate some user
experience. If the "debugging mode" proves to be useful, I will rework it,
possibly using UI functionality that I believe our group might release in
the future. Rest assured, I understand cat() vs message() and the various
tradeoffs. I made mine and it is my impression that package maintainers
have this level of freedom.

The real point is: the currenrt CRAN submission process is designed for
one-way communication and there's no guarantee of continuity of reviewer.
If this type of implementation review is going to happen, it seems that
many aspects of the process would need to change, to make sure these new
standards are applied consistently to every submission and that existing
package are brought up to current standards.

To clarify something for Joris, I am not aware of any special channel of
communication or influence between CRAN and the R Foundation (of which I am
also a member). I think this is an aspect of CRAN vs R Foundation (vs R
Core even) that is unclear to many. These entities operate quite
independently, except for the fact that specific people belong to more than
one. So RF members interact with CRAN the same way as any other of member
of the community.

-- Jenny

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:43 AM Jim Hester <james.f.hester using gmail.com> wrote:

> Sorry first sentence should read
> I agree that `message()` is ideally preferred, precisely because
> of the reasons Martin stated, it is easily controlled by the user.
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:41 AM Jim Hester <james.f.hester using gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > I agree that `message()` is in an ideally preferred, precisely because
> > of the reasons Martin stated, it is easily controlled by the user.
> >
> > Unfortunately, in the real world, the windows R gui console and
> > RStudio (which copied behavior) color messages, and anything on stderr
> > in fact, in red, which confuses most users who are trained to treat
> > messages in red as errors.
> >
> > This also makes using colored output (where available) more
> > challenging when using `message()`.  You either have to accept the
> > text as red, or unconditionally change the text color to black or
> > similar, which can then be unreadable if the user is using a dark
> > color theme.
> >
> > Jenny is an experienced package developer. She knew this tradeoff and
> > the use of `cat()` in gargle was deliberate choice in an imperfect
> > world. She did not make this decision out of ignorance of a better
> > way.
> >
> > However there is no way for Jenny or any other package developers to
> > have a dialog during a CRAN submission, the communication is only in
> > one direction, if she resubmits explaining her rationale for the
> > choice she may not even have the same reviewer the next time.
> >
> > Bioconductor seems to have a much better review process for
> > submissions, with real dialog between the reviewer and package author,
> > perhaps CRAN can learn from that process and improve the submission
> > experience in the future.
> >
> > Jim
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 7:41 AM Martin Morgan <mtmorgan.bioc using gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > message() / warning() / stop() write to stderr whereas print() / cat()
> write (by default) to stdout. Even without being able to suppress messages,
> it is well-established practice (the story is that this is the reason why
> 'stderr' was introduced into unix,
> https://www.jstorimer.com/blogs/workingwithcode/7766119-when-to-use-stderr-instead-of-stdout
> ) to separate diagnostic messages from program output. I agree that gargle
> (in particular, and packages in general, given the theme of this mailing
> list) would be a better package if it used message() where it now uses
> cat().
> > >
> > > Martin
> > >
> > > On 5/15/19, 5:04 AM, "R-package-devel on behalf of Joris Meys" <
> r-package-devel-bounces using r-project.org on behalf of Joris.Meys using ugent.be>
> wrote:
> > >
> > >     2) Where cat() is used in gargle, message() is a better option for
> the
> > >     following reason:
> > >
> > >     > myfun <- function(){cat("Yes");message("No")}
> > >     > suppressMessages(myfun())
> > >     Yes
> > >
> > >
> > > ______________________________________________
> > > R-package-devel using r-project.org mailing list
> > > https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-package-devel
> ______________________________________________
> R-package-devel using r-project.org mailing list
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