Re: [Rd] Possible changes to connections

From: Prof Brian Ripley <>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 17:11:42 +0100 (BST)

On Thu, 31 May 2007, mel wrote:

> Prof Brian Ripley a écrit :
>> When I originally implemented connections in R 1.2.0, I followed the model
>> in the 'Green Book' closely. There were a number of features that forced
>> a particular implementation, and one was getConnection() that allows one
>> to recreate a connection object from a number.
> I'm currently using connections (socketConnection(), etc)
> and I first want to *thank you* for this nice work.
> (imho, it's so much simpler than the underlying C/C++ stuff.)
>> I am wondering if anyone makes use of this, and if so for what?
> I use getConnection().
> In the context in which I use it, the number of the connection is
> known a priori.

I don't see how you can know it 'a priori': it is an implementation detail (and since R itself uses connections, those details could easily change).

> So getConnection() is an easy way to access to the connection
> for the functions which need to.
> I do not however pretend this is the best way to proceed.
>> It would seem closer to the R philosophy to have connection objects that
>> get garbage collected when no R object refers to them. This would allow
>> for example
>> ... readLines(con <- gzfile("foo.gz")); close(con)
>> which is a little awkward but more importantly seems little understood.
> There could be/was the same debate in C/C++.
> That's may be just a matter of education about not forgetting
> to close previously opened doors !

When I ran some tests I found 7 packages on CRAN that in their tests were not closing connections. Four of those are maintained by R-core members. Even though none were by me, I think this is too easy to forget to do!

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
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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