[Rd] Help with testing (was Re: Request: bring back windows chm help support)

From: Prof Brian Ripley <ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2009 20:53:47 +0000 (GMT)

Duncan has echoed my thoughts. Just to add: Windows users also need to monitor the CHANGES file (also available on an RSS feed).

The things that we find hardest to check by automated testing are the installation process and GUI elements: we do only minimal testing in languages other English: Windows users routinely using test versions in the DBCS languages (Japanese, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese) would be particularly beneficial, but so too would users of European languages on any platform.

E.g. it needs no special skills to notice that the installer gave you text help when you asked for HTML help. Yet no one reported it until after release.

On Tue, 3 Nov 2009, Duncan Murdoch wrote:

> On 11/3/2009 9:49 AM, Michael Dewey wrote:
>> At 10:02 03/11/2009, Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
>>
>> Comment in line below
>>
>>> Duncan gave the definitive answer in an earlier reply: the active R
>>> developers are no longer willing to support CHM help. It is not open for
>>> discussion, period.
>>>
>>> But three comments to ponder (but not discuss).
>>>
>>> (a) CHM is unusable for many of us. A year or two ago Microsoft disabled
>>> it on non-local drives via a Windows patch because of security risks --
>>> overnight it simply failed to work (no error, no warning, just no
>>> response) in our computer labs. And this year CERT issued a serious
>>> advisory on the CHM compiler that Microsoft has not fixed (and apparently
>>> is not going to) -- so many of us are banned from having it on a networked
>>> machine by company policy.
>>>
>>> (b) CHM support was in the sources at the beginning of the 2.10.0 alpha
>>> testing. Not one user asked for it at that point, let alone compiled it
>>> up and tested it. Since no one asked for it (not what we had
>>> anticipated), the sources were cleaned up.
>>>
>>> The main consultation over R development is the making available of
>>> development versions for users to test out.
>>>
>>> (c) We did ask for support for cross-compliation before removing it
>>> (https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-devel/2009-January/051864.html): no one
>>> responded but two shameless users months later whinged about its removal
>>> on this list. That has left a sour taste and zero enthusiasm for
>>> supporting things that no one is prepared even to write in about when
>>> asked. Ask not what the R developers can do for you, but what you can do
>>> for R development (and faithful alpha/beta testing would be a start).
>>
>> What would be involved in testing such versions? Do you want people who are
>> just regular users with limited computing skills like me, or users living
>> on the cutting edge of computational statistics?
>
> I don't know what Brian would say, but I would like to see both of the above
> groups testing, and familiar with the changes that are coming. All you need
> to do is to download and install a test version and see if anything goes
> wrong on your system.
>
>> At what
>> stage in the process do pre-compiled versions (for Windows) come in? Is
>> there somewhere I should have looked this up?
>
> There are announcements in the r-announce group when alpha or beta versions
> are about to be released, but you can download the r-devel builds any time to
> see what sort of things are going on, or subscribe to the RSS feed of NEWS
> changes to it.
>
> The main problem with watching R-devel is that often it contains incomplete
> code, and some decisions aren't finalized until the end of the alpha testing
> period. So please don't report things as bugs or expect everything to be in
> its final state, but do point out things that are causing problems.
>
> Duncan Murdoch

-- 
Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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Received on Tue 03 Nov 2009 - 20:56:04 GMT

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