[Rd] ASCIIfy() - a proposal for package:tools

Gregory R. Warnes greg at warnes.net
Thu Apr 17 18:47:04 CEST 2014

Hi Arni,

I’ll be glad to drop ASCIIfy into gtools.  Let me know if this OK.


On Apr 17, 2014, at 9:46 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:

> Nobody else has replied to this, so I will.  It's very unlikely that we would incorporate this function into base R.  For one thing, the tools package is intended to be tools used by R, not by users.  R doesn't need this function, so it doesn't belong in tools.  (Some other functions in tools like showNonASCII have come to be used by users, but their primary purpose is for R.)
> Utility functions that are maintained by R Core and are useful to users belong in the utils package.  But I wouldn't add ASCIIfy to that package either, because I don't want to impose its maintenance on R Core.
> Utility functions that are maintained by others belong in contributed packages.  So I'd suggest that you add this function to some package that you maintain (perhaps a new one, containing a collection of related utility functions), or search CRAN for an appropriate package with a maintainer who is willing to take this on.
> Duncan Murdoch
> On 15/04/2014 1:48 PM, Arni Magnusson wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I would like to propose the attached function ASCIIfy() to be added to the
>> 'tools' package.
>> Non-ASCII characters in character vectors can be problematic for R
>> packages, but sometimes they cannot be avoided. To make packages portable
>> and build without 'R CMD check' warnings, my solution has been to convert
>> problematic characters in functions and datasets to escaped ASCII, so
>> plot(1,main="São Paulo") becomes plot(1,main="S\u00e3o Paulo").
>> The showNonASCII() function in package:tools is helpful to identify R
>> source files where characters should be converted to ASCII one way or
>> another, but I could not find a function to actually perform the
>> conversion to ASCII.
>> I have written the function ASCIIfy() to convert character vectors to
>> ASCII. I imagine other R package developers might be looking for a similar
>> tool, and it seems to me that package:tools is the first place they would
>> look, where the R Core Team has provided a variety of tools for handling
>> non-ASCII characters in package development.
>> I hope the R Core Team will adopt ASCIIfy() into the 'tools' package, to
>> make life easier for package developers outside the English-speaking
>> world. I have of course no problem with them renaming or rewriting the
>> function in any way.
>> See the attached examples - all in flat ASCII that was prepared using the
>> function itself! The main objective, though, is to ASCIIfy functions and
>> datasets, not help pages.
>> Arni
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