Re: [Rd] Documentation: format of read.table help text (PR#14180)

From: William Dunlap <wdunlap_at_tibco.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 09:04:37 -0800

> -----Original Message-----
> From: r-devel-bounces_at_r-project.org
> [mailto:r-devel-bounces_at_r-project.org] On Behalf Of
> henrik.parn_at_bio.ntnu.no
> Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 7:10 AM
> To: r-devel_at_stat.math.ethz.ch
> Cc: R-bugs_at_r-project.org
> Subject: [Rd] Documentation: format of read.table help text (PR#14180)
>
> Dear R developers,
>
> I find the format of descriptions of the arguments in the read.table
> help text slightly inconsistent.
>
> For example, the logical arguments comes in seven different formats,
> more or less explicit about the consequences of a TRUE (or FALSE):
>
> 1. check.names logical. If TRUE then the names...
> 2. blank.lines.skip logical: if TRUE blank lines...
> 3. flush logical: if TRUE, scan...
>
> 4. header a logical value indicating whether...
>
> 5. allowEscapes logical. Should C-style [...] ?
> 6. stringsAsFactors logical: should character [...] ?
>
> 7. strip.white logical. Used only when...
>
>
> First, I believe that a consistent style would make the help
> text easier
> to follow. Second, I believe that an explicit style (sth
> like: "logical.
> If TRUE/FALSE then...") is more intuitive

It would also be nice if the argument description indicated if the argument should have length one or if it could be a general vector.

E.g. a style guide could say the default is that arguments are general vectors but that

   stringsAsFactors logical scalar. If TRUE ... would tell us that stringsAsFactors had to be of length one (so you cannot say that some columns are to be factors and others not). The code phrase could be '<type> scalar' or 'a <type>' but having a common phrase would help.

Bill Dunlap
Spotfire, TIBCO Software
wdunlap tibco.com

> and thus preferable
> over the
> other styles. This might apply to other help pages as well.
>
> I fully understand that the choice of style in help text is a
> matter of
> taste and not of very high priority. Nevertheless, I just wish to
> mention it as a potential for improvement.
>
>
> Thank you for your great work with R!
>
>
> Best regards,
>
> Henrik
>
>
> R version 2.10.1 (2009-12-14)
> i386-pc-mingw32
>
> locale:
> [1] LC_COLLATE=English_United Kingdom.1252 LC_CTYPE=English_United
> Kingdom.1252 LC_MONETARY=English_United Kingdom.1252 LC_NUMERIC=C
>
> [5] LC_TIME=English_United Kingdom.1252
>
> attached base packages:
> [1] grDevices datasets splines graphics stats tcltk utils
> methods base
>
> other attached packages:
> [1] svSocket_0.9-48 TinnR_1.0.3 R2HTML_1.59-1 Hmisc_3.7-0
> survival_2.35-7
>
> loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
> [1] cluster_1.12.1 grid_2.10.1 lattice_0.17-26 svMisc_0.9-56
> tools_2.10.1
>
> --
> Henrik Pärn
> Centre for Conservation Biology
> Department of Biology
> Norwegian University of Science and Technology
> NO-7491 Trondheim
> Norway
>
> Office: +47 73596285
> Fax: +47 73596100
> Mobile: +47 90989255
>
> E-mail: henrik.parn_at_bio.ntnu.no
>
> ______________________________________________
> R-devel_at_r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
>



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