[R-wiki] [R] Packages - a great resource, but hard to find the right one

Martin Maechler maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch
Fri Nov 23 15:09:52 CET 2007

>>>>> "JH" == Johannes Huesing <johannes at huesing.name>
>>>>>     on Thu, 22 Nov 2007 22:14:57 +0100 writes:

    JH> Antony Unwin <unwin at math.uni-augsburg.de> [Thu, Nov 22,
    JH> 2007 at 12:43:07PM CET]:
    >> There have been several constructive responses to John
    >> Sorkin's comment, but none of them are fully
    >> satisfactory.  Of course, if you know the name of the
    >> function you are looking for, there are lots of ways to
    >> search ? provided that everyone calls the function by a
    >> name that matches your search.

    JH> I follow the suggestion to Google (mostly restricted by
    JH> site:cran.r-project.org) which gets me quite far.

    >> If you think there might be a function, but you don't
    >> know the name, then you have to be lucky in how you
    >> search.  R is a language and the suggestions so far seem
    >> to me like dictionary suggestions, whereas maybe what
    >> John is looking for is something more like a thesarus.

    JH> This is hard to do in a collaborative effort. One
    JH> analogue is the HOWTOs vs the man pages which I see in
    JH> Linux. Some of the HOWTOs are outstanding, the only
    JH> problem they are facing is that they tend to be out of
    JH> date.

    >> R packages are a strange collection, as befits a growing
    >> language.  There are large packages, small packages, good
    >> packages (and not so good packages), personal mixtures of
    >> tools in packages, packages to accompany books,
    >> superceded packages, unusual packages, everything.  Above
    >> all there are lots of packages.  As the software editor
    >> of the Journal of Statistical Software I suggested we
    >> should review R packages.

    JH> You mean: prior to submission?

    >> No one has shown any enthusiasm for this suggestion, but
    >> I think it would help.  Any volunteers?

    JH> I am still putting some hope into the R Wiki. To my
    JH> dismay it is also package oriented, 
    JH> not method-oriented. 

I don't think this is true; at least it's not at all intended.
I'll *exceptionally* am crossposting this to the R-Wiki Special
Interest Group.

    JH> I tend to think that there is a chance
    JH> of controlled documentation if somebody set out an
    JH> infrastructure going beyond the current one. Anything
    JH> like a classification of methods.

    JH> Thing is, I may like to volunteer, but not in the
    JH> "here's a package for you to review by week 32"
    JH> way. Rather in the way that I search a package which
    JH> fits my problem. One package lets me down and I'd like
    JH> to know other users and the maintainer about it.  The
    JH> other one works black magic and I'd like to drop a
    JH> raving review about it. This needs an infrastructure
    JH> with a low barrier to entry. A wiki is not the worst
    JH> idea if the initial infrastructure is geared at
    JH> addressing problems rather than packages.

    JH> -- Johannes Hüsing

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