Re: [Rd] Passing externalptr to .C()

From: Duncan Murdoch <>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 18:34:25 -0400

On 12-05-11 5:20 PM, Rick Sayre wrote:
> Greetings.
> 2.15.0 added this behavior
> o Passing R objects other than atomic vectors, functions, lists and
> environments to .C() is now deprecated and will give a warning.
> Most cases (especially NULL) are actually coding errors. NULL
> will be disallowed in future.

> This seems to make sense, except that this case includes externalptrs.

> I have quite a bit of code, designed to interface with various
> external hardware devices, which uses this sort of idiom:

> # for example
> getDeviceInfo<- function(handle) {
> .C("groovyDevice_getDeviceInfo", PACKAGE="groovyDevice",
> handle,
> status = as.integer(0))[-1] # skip handle
> }
> where "handle" was the result of a .Call to a routine which
> returned a SEXP which was the result of a R_MakeExternalPtr() call
> The "c" routine looked like:
> void
> groovyDevice_getDeviceInfo(SEXP handle, int *status)
> {
> groovyHandle *gh = R_ExternalPtrAddr(handle);
> *status = GroovyStatus(gh);
> }
> This all used to work fine. As of 2.15.0, I now get this:
> Warning message:
> In getDeviceInfo() :
> passing an object of type 'externalptr' to .C (arg 1) is deprecated
> Passing the same handle to a .Call() does [of course] work fine.

> I thought my usage was exactly as designed. How then should I be
> passing an externalptr to a .C() call?

I think you shouldn't be doing that. You should be using .Call.

If your code can handle external pointer objects (as in the example), this should be an easy transition. I haven't tested this, but I think the conversion to the .Call interface (less error checking) is simply

  SEXP_getDeviceInfo(SEXP handle, SEXP status)   {

        groovyHandle *gh = R_ExternalPtrAddr(handle);
        INTEGER(Sstatus)[0] = GroovyStatus(gh);
        return R_NilValue;


If your code is using the pointer just as an opaque handle, I'd suggest keeping an array of them, and pass an index into that array: then .C will be fine.

Duncan Murdoch mailing list Received on Fri 11 May 2012 - 22:37:04 GMT

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