Thu, 06 Apr 2017

#3: Follow R-devel

Welcome to the third post in the rarely relevant R recommendation series, or R4 for short.

Today will be brief, but of some importance. In order to know where R is going next, few places provide a better vantage point than the actual ongoing development.

A few years ago, I mentioned to Duncan Murdoch how straightforward the setup of my CRANberries feed (and site) was. After all, static blog compilers converting textual input to html, rss feed and whatnot have been around for fifteen years (though they keep getting reinvented). He took this to heart and built the (not too pretty) R-devel daily site (which also uses a fancy diff tool as it shows changes in NEWS) as well as a more general description of all available sub-feeds. I follow this mostly through blog aggregations -- Google Reader in its day, now Feedly. A screenshot is below just to show that it doesn't have to be ugly just because it is on them intertubes:

This shows a particularly useful day when R-devel folded into the new branch for what will be the R 3.4.0 release come April 21. The list of upcoming changes is truly impressive and quite comprehensive -- and the package registration helper, focus of posts #1 and #2 here, is but one of these many changes.

One function I learned about that day is tools::CRAN_package_db(), a helper to get a single (large) data.frame with all package DESCRIPTION information. Very handy. Others may have noticed that CRAN repos now have a new top-level file PACKAGES.rds and this function does indeed just fetch it--which you could do with a similar one-liner in R-release as well. Still very handy.

But do read about changes in R-devel and hence upcoming changes in R 3.4.0. Lots of good things coming our way.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

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