Re: [Rd] optional package dependency

From: Seth Falcon <seth_at_userprimary.net>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 07:22:03 -0800

On 1/15/10 12:19 AM, Kurt Hornik wrote:

>>>>>> Jeff Ryan writes:

>
>> Hi Ross,
>> The quantmod package makes available routines from a variety of
>> contributed packages, but gets around your issues with a bit of, um,
>> trickery.

>

>> Take a look here (unless your name is Kurt ;-) ):

I believe another option is:

   pkg <- "somePkg"
   pkgAvail <- require(pkg, character.only = TRUE)
   if (pkgAvail)

      ...
   else

      ...

> But Kurt will we happy to tell you that you can turn off "forcing"
> suggested packages for checking by setting
>
> _R_CHECK_FORCE_SUGGESTS_=false
>
> in your environment. The idea is that maintainers typically want to
> fully check their functionality, suggesting to force suggests by
> default.

Unless the public repositories such as CRAN and Bioconductor decide to set this option, it provides no solution for anyone who maintains or plans to make available a package through a public R repository such as CRAN or Bioconductor.

There is a real need (of some kind) here. Not all packages work on all platforms. For example, the multicore package provides a mechanism for running parallel computations on a multi-cpu box, but it is not available on Windows. A package that _is_ available on all platforms should be able to optionally make use of multicore on non-Windows. I don't think there is a way to do that now and pass check without resorting to "tricks" as above. These tricks are bad as they make it harder to programmatically determine the true "suggests".

And NAMESPACE brings up another issue in that being able to do conditional imports would be very useful for these cases, otherwise you simply can't make proper use of name spaces for any optional functionality.

I'm willing to help work on and test a solution if we can arrive at some consensus as to what the solution looks like.

Best,

+ seth



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