[Rd] Confusion about Depends:, Imports:, Enhances:, import(), inportFrom()

R. Michael Weylandt <michael.weylandt@gmail.com> michael.weylandt at gmail.com
Thu Aug 22 19:05:18 CEST 2013

On Aug 22, 2013, at 9:09, Michael Friendly <friendly at yorku.ca> wrote:

> In checking my vcdExtra package, the following NOTE newly appeared (R-Forge, using R version 3.0.1 Patched (2013-08-20 r63635))
> Package in Depends field not imported from: ‘gnm’
>  These packages needs to imported from for the case when
>  this namespace is loaded but not attached.
> In the DESCRIPTION file, I have
> Depends: R (>= 2.10), vcd, gnm (>= 1.0.3)
> # we are a vcd extension
> import(vcd)
> I've read 1.1.1 of R-Exts, but it is not clear to me whether I should also import gnm or change
> the DESCRIPTION file to use
> Imports: vcd, gnm (>= 1.0.3)
> R-Exts says: The ‘Imports’ field lists packages whose namespaces are imported from (as specified in the
> NAMESPACE file) but which do not need to be attached, but how can I tell if gnm needs to be attached?

I think the current best practice is to use Imports unless gnm provides functions the end user needs in order to use your package. 

Practically, I think this usually comes down to asking whether gnm provides relevant generics -- if you provide methods only, the end user would only be able to call them directly (ick!) unless gnm is both loaded and attached (Depends)

If gnm is tools for your code, but not the user to call directly, Imports is cleaner. 

Does that help?


> Also, what is the difference between Imports: in DESCRIPTION and imports() in NAMESPACE?

One enables the other: Imports in DESCRIPTION allows for both imports() and importsFrom(). It could probably be automatic, but the DESC file is much older than the NAMESPACE file. 

> -Michael
> -- 
> Michael Friendly     Email: friendly AT yorku DOT ca
> Professor, Psychology Dept. & Chair, Quantitative Methods
> York University      Voice: 416 736-2100 x66249 Fax: 416 736-5814
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