[Rd] organisation of packages & CRAN

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Sun Nov 9 22:37:05 CET 2014

Hi Ben.  I agree with most of your points and questions, but just wanted
to nitpick one little point, inline below:

On 09/11/2014, 3:26 PM, Ben Bolker wrote:
> Gábor Csárdi <csardi.gabor <at> gmail.com> writes:
>> Hi,
>> I think much of this is simply impossible to do. CRAN packages are
>> written and maintained by thousands of people, how are you planning to
>> convince them to reorganize their packages? Or even just rename them?
>> This obviously won't happen.
>> Btw. did you see 'CRAN Task Views'? That is one organizations of
>> packages into topics.
>> Personally, I don't think organization is the solution here. It is too
>> costly (i.e. too much work) to maintain, impossible to enforce. I
>> think, however, that a good search engine would definitely help.
>> FWIW there is a simple search engine here: http://metacran.github.io/search/
>> This ranks packages according to the number of reverse dependencies
>> (among other things), i.e. packages more often used by other packages
>> will be higher up in the list.
>> Ranking them according to downloads is also possible, but AFAIK only
>> one CRAN mirror gives out statistics about downloads, so you don't
>> really have the complete numbers there.
>> Disclaimer: I built the search engine above. There are obviously other
>> alternatives as well, e.g. http://rdocumentation.org, and
>> http://mran.revolutionanalytics.com/packages/ are the two I know.
>> Gabor
>   A few more thoughts:
> * similar topics have been discussed _many_ times over the years on
> the R mailing lists (sorry, I can't point you to any specific
> threads). So far the R core/CRAN team have not indicated any interest

"team" should be plural here.  Though there is overlap in membership,
CRAN is a separate entity from the R Core team.

Duncan Murdoch

> in making changes in the directions you suggest, so it's up to
> the community to implement the things it would like to see.  There's
> nothing stopping you from mirroring CRAN packages in any way you'd
> like (e.g. see Revolution R's 'MRAN': http://mran.revolutionanalytics.com/ ,
> which among other things allows you to sort packages by task view).
> In addition to the Task Views pointed out by Gabor (you may enjoy
> this version: http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~rowlings/R/TaskViews/ ),
> there have been a variety of individual/community attempts to provide
> more package information:
> * CRANberries http://dirk.eddelbuettel.com/cranberries/ gives a feed
> about package changes
> * CRANtastic http://crantastic.org/ attempted to set up a community
> site for package rating/voting (never got a lot of traction though).
> * download information _is_ available, unofficially, from some 
> mirrors other than the RStudio mirror: see
> http://www.rpubs.com/bbolker/3750
> Questions:
> * how would you propose to enforce package naming? (One of the
> great things about packaging code R is the relatively *low*
> barriers to entry ... but that has obvious disadvantages ...)
> * who's going to enforce and curate the metadata?
> * who's going to decide on the criteria for CRAN package removal
> (i.e. how to determine quality, or how to decide on a threshold
> for removal?) There's some filtering based on packages failing
> their automated checks and being archived as R advances ...
>> On Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM, Steven Sagaert
>> <steven.sagaert <at> gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> I’ve been using R on and off for a couple of years. I think R is
>> pretty great but one thing I’d like to see improved is the way
>> packages are organised. Instead of CRAN being a long list of
>> packages having a short & usually unintelligible name I ‘d like to
>> see packages organised in a hierarchical way with that path acting
>> as a hierarchical namespace just like you have in many other
>> languages like Java, C#,Scala,… The names of the (sub)packages
>> should also be clear and unambiguous & packages should be organised
>> according to their functionality and not just for example be code
>> for a whole book thrown together and given a cryptic name.
>> Next to that it would be nice to have extra metadata in the
>> packages to allow for another more loose flat multi-class
>> class-action like in tagging blog systems & other metadata to allow
>> for for automatically generating something like task views.
>>> Due to the large number of packages it’s hard to see the forest
>> from the trees so a recommendation system for CRAN based on
>> popularity (download statistics) , ratings & other data like related
>> packages from package metadata would be most welcome.
>>  Finally the number of packages in CRAN is exponentially growing but
>> there is also a large partial overlap in functionality between
>> packages & so many packages make it hard to find what you are
>> looking for. So maybe there less is more and there should be a
>> system of removing hardly used/low quality packages on a regular
>> basis.
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