[Rd] Why R-project source code is not on Github

Jeroen Ooms jeroen.ooms at stat.ucla.edu
Sun Aug 24 19:24:02 CEST 2014

On Sun, Aug 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM, Gaurav Sehrawat
<igauravsehrawat at gmail.com> wrote:
> But never mind . Sooner or later.

These things take time, but a lot has happened over the past years. By
now all activity of r-base [1] cran [2] and r-forge [3] is
continuously mirrored on Github, which already gives unprecedented
insight in developments. At least several r-core members [4,5,6,7,8]
have been spotted on Github, and this years useR2014 website [9] was
developed and hosted completely on Github. It seems like a matter of
time until the benefits outweigh the cost of a migration, even to the
more conservative stakeholders.

However moving development of a medium sized, 20 year old open source
project is not trivial. You are dealing with a large commit history
and many contributors that all have to overhaul their familiar tools
and development practices overnight. There is also the infrastructure
of nightly builds and CRAN r-devel package checking that relies on the
svn. Moreover moving to Github means changes in communications, for
example replacing the current bug tracking system to Github "issues".
In addition, several members are skeptical about putting source code
in the hands of a for-profit US company, and other legal issues. These
are just some of the concerns that would need to be addressed to get
everyone on board.

My (limited) experience with these things is that the most critical
piece of making such a transition actually happen is not just a
general consensus that a is preferable over b, but rather a detailed
proposal outlining what the migration would involve, the
cost/benefits, a planning, and someone that is willing to take the
lead. Only on the basis of such a serious proposal you can have a
discussion in which everyone can voice concerns, be assured that
his/her interests are secure, and the idea can eventually be put up
for a vote.


[1] https://github.com/wch/r-source
[2] https://github.com/cran
[3] https://github.com/rforge
[4] https://github.com/s-u
[5] https://github.com/mmaechler
[6] https://github.com/duncantl
[7] https://github.com/pmur002
[8] https://github.com/dmbates
[9] https://github.com/user2014

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