[Rd] namespace S3 and S4 generic imports cannot both be satisfied:

John Chambers jmc at r-project.org
Sun Dec 9 20:27:55 CET 2012

Yes, you are right.

Mixing S3 and S4 methods for a generic is fine, although in subtle cases 
one is safer promoting the S3 method to an S4 method, as you did in your 

Usually, the default method for the S4 generic is the S3 generic.  But, 
in general, it's not possible to check algorithmically whether the S3 
methods will be dispatched.  For example, an S4 method on "vector" could 
dispatch S3 methods on subclasses "numeric", etc. (don't ask why ...), 
for a generic that had no default method.

That the trouble with this check isn't found right away is likely 
because one is typically working with a primitive where no generic 
function is created.

Should be fixed in rev. 61263.  Please check on your real example; it 
seems fine on the test you submitted.

Thanks for the catch.


On 12/8/12 3:05 PM, Martin Morgan wrote:
> PkgA wishes to write a method for 'unique' on S4 class 'A'. ?Methods
> indicates that one should
>    setGeneric("unique")
>    setClass("A")
>    unique.A <- function(x, incomparables=FALSE, ...) {}
>    setMethod(unique, "A", unique.A)
> Both S3 and S4 methods need to be exported in the NAMESPACE
>    import(methods)
>    S3method(unique, A)
>    exportMethods(unique)
> PkgB introduces a new class and method
>    setClass("B")
>    unique.B <- function(x, incomparables=FALSE, ...) {}
>    setMethod(unique, "B", unique.B)
> and in the NAMESPACE has
>    import(methods)
>    importFrom(PkgA, unique)
>    S3method(unique, B)
>    exportMethods(unique)
> Unfortuantely, R CMD check says that
> * checking whether package 'PkgB' can be installed ... WARNING
> Found the following significant warnings:
>    Warning: found an S4 version of 'unique' so it has not been imported
> correctly
> See '/home/mtmorgan/tmp/PkgB.Rcheck/00install.out' for details.
> This is from (svn r61253) R-devel/src/library/base/R/namespace.R:1339,
> where the code finds the S4 generic, but not the S3 generic. Obviously
> the namespace cannot have both the S3 and S4 symbols defined, but this
> seems to be required? A workaround might extend the check to include
> getGeneric(genname)@default.
> This scenario is reproducible in the attached tarball
>    tar xzf PkgAB.tar.gz
>    R CMD check PkgB
> Martin Morgan
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