[Rd] "bug report" field in DESCRIPTION file?

From: Barry Rowlingson <b.rowlingson_at_lancaster.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 12:09:49 +0000

A lot of R packages are now effectively maintained by several people and so use sites like R-forge or google code for development. This means the best way to report bugs or problems with these packages is via the development site's bug tracking rather than emailing the maintainer. Could we agree on a field in DESCRIPTION explicitly for bug reports?

 The DESCRIPTION file has an optional URL field which generally sends the user to the 'home page' of the package. Whether or not there is a bug tracker somewhere there isn't made explicit, so I don't think overloading URL for a bug report address is a good idea. The Hmisc package mentions its bug tracker in the Description field and also has it in the URL field with three other URLs. This tells me a bug report field might be a better idea.

 I'd prefer an optional field called 'BugReports:', which would be a URL, and this could either be the http: address of a web site bug tracker or a mailto: URL (of a real live human or a mail-based tracker).

 If there's agreement on this then a further step may be to write a
'bugreport(package)' function that would first look for a BugReport
field, then the URL or maintainer fields to give the poor confused user some advice on what to do. Then when someone emails R-dev saying they think there's a bug in package foo, we can say "Have you read the output of 'bugreport("foo")'?" which might be more helpful than saying

'bugs with 'foo' should be reported to the maintainer'.

 Just an idea for a rainy morning...


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