Apropos names.

Ross Ihaka ihaka@stat.auckland.ac.nz
Sat, 21 Mar 1998 13:20:08 +1200 (NZST)

> To: R-devel@stat.math.ethz.ch
> Subject: Apropos names.
> From: Peter Dalgaard BSA <p.dalgaard@biostat.ku.dk>
> Date: 19 Mar 1998 18:44:14 +0100
> MIME-Version: 1.0
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

> (from R-core)
> > Btw, why can't object names contain a `@'?

Reserved for future use?

> Speaking of names. I've been thinking whether it would not at some
> point be wise to introduce namespaces into R. This would pretty
> obviously break a lot of S code, but it would also make it possible to
> avoid a lot of silly problems such as naming one's variables c, t, pt,
> df, rm, ... 
> A plan that might work relatively smoothly could involve:
> - Separate functions from variables. We already do that to some extent
>   ("looking for object of mode function...") [At the same time, one
>   might get rid of everyone's favourite quirk: forgetting () and
>   thus listing the function instead of calling it. I know: basic
>   design, functions are just objects, etc., but really: Wouldn't it be
>   nicer to type view(ls) the few times you actually wanted to see its
>   contents?]

This has been done in common lisp and it's ugly.  Consider

	apply(x, 1, mean)

How do we indicate that this is the function called mean rather
than the non-function mean?  The single namespace makes it much
easier to think about functions as data.

> - All system functions and variables are really named something like
>   sys::c() i.e. we introduce a namespace separator ::.
>   Functions/variables that are intended for general use can be made
>   public, by a special call.

This is a definite possibility, but there are higher priorities at present.


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