[Rd] s4 methods and base

Marsland, John John.Marsland at CommerzbankIB.com
Tue Aug 5 18:37:56 MEST 2003

I'm sure that many people are in the same position as me in that they are
trying to write packages and code that is vaguely "future proof".

Would it be possible to get some guidance on how the R-core team see the
evolution of the "base" package with regard to s4 methods.

There seem to be quite a lot of inconsistencies between s3 and s4 methods
and classes currently and this (I'm sure) is only to be expected in a period
of transition. eg POSIXlt vs POSIXt and POSIXct. And there seem like dozens
of print methods to convert - it's not an enviable task and I'm sure it will
take time! ... if indeed you do see R being purged of s3 by some point in
the future.

But I think it would be helpful if there was some general guidance in terms
of the direction R is going?

For my own part I am very impressed with the power of the s4 methods and the
functional nature of the language. But there are some comparisons with (say)
Python that would make it even better. Many of these relate to the base
package and the very diverse collection of demos, stats, dates and file
handling etc... are there plans to break this up so as to make the
instruction set smaller (an obvious use of s4 methods) and the whole
language more light-weight and like a scripting language. Others seem to be
thinking in this direction with the addition of "import" and namespaces, but
more detail (or a pointer towards it if it exists!) would be helpful.


John Marsland

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