[Rd] Re: Variable labels (was Re: [R] Reading SAS version 8 d ata into

Warnes, Gregory R gregory_r_warnes@groton.pfizer.com
Sun, 26 Aug 2001 01:15:20 -0400

> From: fharrell@virginia.edu [mailto:fharrell@virginia.edu]
> I think your code is more complex that is really needed.
> The problem with defaulting to deparse(...) is that
> multiple function pass-throughs return the wrong result:
> So I don't see a large role for the deparse(...) method.

Actually one of the reasons that I included the deparse(...) method was to
create a 'drop-in' substitute for the current calls to deparse(...) that are
found throughout the code and that would be backward-compatible.  Having
such a call will immensely simplify changing existing code.

It's true that the variable names don't get correctly handled once you down
a layer of function calls, but that applies AFAIK to the current
deparse(...) method  as well.  

> The Hmisc library already defines label<- so if you
> are willing to use another name for your version that
> would prevent confusion from users of Hmisc.

I don't think there will be a problem as long as the functions do exactly
the same thing.  To that end, perhaps we should agree on a common set of
functions and keep them in sync.  I expect that your functions are better
tested than mine, since they've been available for some time.

> The problem of labels being retained after you do
> arithmetic on the variable is a real one, and one
> I've put up with for a long time with S-Plus.  It would
> be nice if R could prevent that but that is getting tricky.

> What I've wanted more generally is the ability for the
> user to specify a vector of attribute names in options()
> that would be preserved upon subsetting.  That way I
> wouldn't have to go to trouble to write local versions
> of [.factor, etc. that carry the 'label' attribute.
> Im my usage, 'label's are always logically carried
> forward for subsetting.

It seems to be a good idea to preserve the labels during subset operations.
What are the possible cons?


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