Re: [Rd] Suggestion: help(<package name>)

From: A.J. Rossini <>
Date: Wed 08 Jun 2005 - 07:59:24 GMT

On 6/8/05, Torsten Hothorn <> wrote:
> On Tue, 7 Jun 2005, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
> [...]
> > My proposal (modified following the suggestions I've heard so far) is as
> > follows:
> >
> > - to check that a couple of help topic aliases exist (<pkg>.package
> > and <pkg>)
> > - to recommend that <pkg>.package contain general information about
> > the package, and that <pkg> be an alias for it, if it isn't used for
> > some other purpose.
> > - to write promptPackage() to help create an initial version of
> > <pkg>.package.Rd. It can get some information from the DESCRIPTION
> > file; perhaps it could go looking for a vignette, or the INDEX, or
> > - to modify the other help system tools to make use of this (e.g. the
> > package:<pkg> heading on a page would become a link to the <pkg>.package
> > alias, etc.)
> >
> as a package author who already provides help pages for general package
> descriptions (`?multcomp' and `?coin' work and, if I remember correctly,
> Martin suggested to include the advertisement this way) I must
> admit that I never say `?foo' when I'm interested in a global overview
> about a new package `foo'.
> Instead, `library(help = foo)' gives what I want to see, namely the title
> and description of a package and all documented topics. One may argue that
> asking `library' for help is not the most obvious thing to do. But people
> able to recall that fitting an ANOVA model requires `aov' and comparing
> two models needs `anova' should be able to have `library' in mind for
> general package information.
> So, for me having infrastructure for _automatically_ generated overviews
> is very nice, but _forcing_ package authors to provide additional
> meta-information would be less welcome.

I'm in the Robert/Brian school of thought -- this can be solved with better DESCRIPTIONS, or by explicitly writing such a file (which one can already do), or through better advertisement / incorporation of the vignette tools.

Requiring anything additional is a PITA. Sure, it doesn't look like much time, but it is. "much" is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps one thing to do is to map


as was previously suggested, and let authors put information in the DESCRIPTION, perhaps with a lead towards the right help file to use to get more.


"Commit early,commit often, and commit in a repository from which we can easily roll-back your mistakes" (AJR, 4Jan05).

A.J. Rossini mailing list Received on Wed Jun 08 18:07:18 2005

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