Re: [Rd] Connections to https: URLs -- IE expert help needed

From: Duncan Temple Lang <duncan_at_wald.ucdavis.edu>
Date: Wed 20 Dec 2006 - 22:10:41 GMT

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Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> I've added to R-devel the ability to use download.file() and url() to
> https: URLs, *only* if --internet2 is used on Windows.
>
> This uses the Internet Explorer internals, and only works if the
> certificate is accepted (so e.g. does not work for
> https://svn.r-project.org).
>
> Now I use IE (and Windows for that matter) only when really necessary, and
> Firefox has simple ways to permanently accept non-verifiable certificates.
> I would be grateful if someone who is much more familiar with IE could
> write a note explaining how to deal with this that we could add to the
> rw-FAQ.
>
> To forestall the inevitable question: there are no plans to add https:
> support on any other platform, but it is something that would make a nice
> project for a user contribution. The current internal code is based on
> likxml2, and that AFAICS still does not have https: support.
>

Generally (i.e. not in particular response to Brian but related to this thread)

An alternative is to use RCurl and leave HTTPS and a host of other protocols and details to an external library (e.g. libcurl, libwww, etc.) and an R package that interfaces to it.

If we want the facilities to be accessible via the connections interface, then we can make that API extensible by packages. Jeff Horner has a proposal on that.

Generally, it is important if R is to continue to evolve that the R internals become extensible by package developers so that we can do some new experiments and provide alternative implementations of the basic structures rather than being tied to the existing representation. An object oriented framework underlying the R source code would enable this and would solve numerous problems that have arisen recently and I strongly suspect many more that will arise.

 D.

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