Re: [R] Building R packages under Windows.

From: Gabor Grothendieck <ggrothendieck_at_gmail.com>
Date: Tue 12 Apr 2005 - 01:36:38 EST

On Apr 11, 2005 10:58 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch@math.aau.dk> wrote:
> Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
>
> > Other resources are:
> > - http://www.murdoch-sutherland.com/Rtools/
>
> My plan is that this is only going to include updates of the information
> in the R Admin manual, e.g. when a new version of one of the tools is
> available, this page will give advice on whether to use it or not.
>
> > - README.packages in \Program Files\R\rw2001 or whatever version of R
>
> As mentioned, all of this has moved into the admin manual.
>
> > - posts by me, John Fox, Andy Liao in r-help or r-devel
> >
> > I use Windows XP and it also took me quite a bit of time until I
> > figured it out too. I was really wondering as I got frustrated how
> > it was possible that 500+ packages got developed for R when it
> > was so hard to figure out how to create a package, particularly
> > if you want to put in a vignette. One of the problems is that its
> > dependent on so many other pieces of software and also there can
> > be path problems that you have to figure out. I suspect that the process
> > is somewhat smoother under UNIX and maybe most people use
> > that.
> >
> > Fortunately, it does all work once you get it figured out
> > and its worth it if you are going to do a lot of development since
> > it really helps organize you. If you are just going to use it briefly
> > or casually its probably not worth the hassle. Once you do figure
> > it out it does work although there are a few annoyances.
> > R CMD CHECK is really great although I wish there were some
> > way of telling it to ignore the files referenced in .Rbuildignore so
> > one does not have to do a build first. Also the error messages
> > from the process are often less than helpful but I suspect it would
> > be difficult to improve since it can go wrong at a point which is
> > different than the source of the problem.
> >
> > I think the fixable problems are:
> > - a guide is needed, as you mention
>
> Comments on the new organization are welcome. They'll be unlikely to
> make it into 2.1.0, but 2.1.1 or 2.2.0 will benefit from them.

I am probably missing something here but is there some new material that perhaps I am unaware of?

>
> > - the prerequisites need to be reduced:
> > -- significant portions are written in perl which is probably a
> > holdover from the days when R was less powerful and now
> > could all be ported to R
>
> This would be nice, but, as you say, there's a significant amount of
> work there. It seems to me that giving instructions on how to install
> Perl is a lot easier, and the work a user does in installing Perl is
> small compared to all the other things someone writing a package would
> be doing, and only needs to be done once. So I have no intention of
> redoing this, and wouldn't even be all that enthusiastic about testing a
> submission of rewrites from someone else.
>

I assume you are primarily interested in working on the part that is specific to Windows but this is not really a Windows job though that would be a key application of it. Its really a job for R in general since it affects all ports of R, not just Windows. The biggest problem with porting this is that someone has to know R, perl and the scripts themselves or else they have to learn some of these which would be much more work. Not only does it make it harder to create packages but the package development tools are held back since presumably few people know R, perl and the scripts. The key growth of R will not be driven so much by changes to the core but by addon packages so making it easy to create such packages are key to the success of R, at least IMHO.

> > -- it would be nice it the tools were not needed either.
>
> I don't think this is likely any time soon. The tools are there to
> provide "make" and a Unix-like environment in which to run it. I don't
> think it's likely anyone would rewrite make in R. Some of the other

There is a perl power tools project to rewrite all the UNIX tools in perl.

   http://ppt.perl.org/
It does include make so I guess its doable. It would be neat if there were an R power tools project although even better would just be to eliminate the need for the tools in the first place, if feasible.

The path problems are annoying. Maybe there is some way of creating a "package" of tools that one simply installs in the same way one installs other R packages even if the tools themselves are not changed? By the way, there is another free help compiler on the net. I have never really looked at it but its at vizacc.com . Not sure if there are any implications to that.

> tools could be replaced with R code, but since you're installing one,
> why not install several?
>
> > -- reduced functionality with no Microsoft style help should be
> > possible to optionally allow one to create packages without
> > downloading the Microsoft help compiler
>
> This is possible, by editing the MkRules file and/or using the --docs=normal
> option to BUILD or INSTALL. I've just fixed up the R-admin description
> a bit to make this clearer.

Great.

>
> > - the TEXINPUTS problems with MiKTeX needs to be solved
> > by MiKTeX (they know about it and intend to solve it but I am
> > not sure how quickly that will happen. In the meantime there
> > are workarounds at:
> > http://www.murdoch-sutherland.com/Rtools/miktex.html
> > The fourth alternative is the easiest. I think this only affects
> > you if you are building vignettes.)
>
> I'm no longer sure they intend to fix it. Since I wrote those
> instructions, they came out with a new release that breaks one of the
> workarounds.

>From what I have read on sf.net they intend to fix it but not necessarily
for the next release:

https://sourceforge.net/tracker/?func=detail&atid=110783&aid=966425&group_id=10783

>
> Duncan Murdoch
>

I really posted because Uwe posted something to the effect that there is no problem and I felt that that was unfair given that I had so many problems myself and the poster is probably reliving my own experience.

Regards.



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