[Rd] Recent and upcoming changes to R-devel

From: Prof Brian Ripley <ripley_at_stats.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 04 Jul 2011 13:08:38 +0100 (BST)

There was an R-core meeting the week before last, and various planned changes will appear in R-devel over the next few weeks.

These are changes planned for R 2.14.0 scheduled for Oct 31. As we are sick of people referring to R-devel as '2.14' or '2.14.0', that version number will not be used until we reach 2.14.0 alpha. You will be able to have a package depend on an svn version number when referring to R-devel rather than using R (>= 2.14.0).

All packages are installed with lazy-loading (there were 72 CRAN packages and 8 BioC packages which opted out). This means that the code is always parsed at install time which inter alia simplifies the descriptions. R 2.13.1 RC warns on installation about packages which ask not to be lazy-loaded, and R-devel ignores such requests (with a warning).

In the near future all packages will have a name space. If the sources do not contain one, a default NAMESPACE file will be added. This again will simplify the descriptions and also a lot of internal code. Maintainers of packages without name spaces (currently 42% of CRAN) are encouraged to add one themselves.

R-devel is installed with the base and recommended packages byte-compiled (the equivalent of 'make bytecode' in R 2.13.x, but done less inefficiently). There is a new option R CMD INSTALL --byte-compile
to byte-compile contributed packages, but that remains optional. Byte-compilation is quite expensive (so you definitely want to do it at install time, which requires lazy-loading), and relatively few packages benefit appreciably from byte-compilation. A larger number of packages benefit from byte-compilation of R itself: for example AER runs its checks 10% faster. The byte-compiler technology is thanks to Luke Tierney.

There is support for figures in Rd files: currently with a first-pass implementation (thanks to 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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