Using zip format for help pages, examples, etc.

Douglas Bates
26 Mar 1999 09:24:06 -0600

>>>>> "Jonathan" == Jonathan Rougier <> writes:

  Jonathan> On Fri, 26 Mar 1999, Martyn Plummer wrote:
  >> The problem isn't that the help files take up a lot of space, but
  >> that certain file systems are extremely inefficient in the use of
  >> that space.

  Jonathan> This is probably an unrealistic suggestion, but if
  Jonathan> compression is less of a problem than the number of files,
  Jonathan> why not take the help files `onboard' by creating a new
  Jonathan> class of objects with mode "help", which would be lists
  Jonathan> with components much like the current .Rd files, and
  Jonathan> attach them at the bottom of the search list.  Each
  Jonathan> library would then require just a single file of help
  Jonathan> objects.

This is a reasonable suggestion but I think that the way that R
handles its search lists would make this problematic.  At present
objects in a library take up space in memory whether they are used or
not.  Also, the search to resolve a name is a linear search over the
available names.  Adding a whole lot more names for help objects would
exacerbate both of those problems.  Then there is the name-space
pollution problem.

Approaches to all of these issues with names and objects are being
discussed and will probably be implemented in later releases.  Right
now I think the best approach to the problem of help files,
etc. (other than waiting for certain commercial operating systems to
catch up with concepts from the 1980's) is to use the zip format for
the reasons that Brian Ripley indicated.

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