[Rd] NEWS.md support on CRAN

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Sun May 24 01:43:45 CEST 2015

On 23/05/2015 11:31 AM, Yihui Xie wrote:
> I agree. It is not worth all the trouble just to save the "bit of
> hassle to go to the package's Github site". 

I'm sorry, but in my opinion this is not negotiable.  R needs to run on
systems without Internet connections.  It's not just a "bit of hassle".
R is used in places where not everyone has good Internet all the time.

In fact, the release notes
> on Github are more meaningful than a plain text NEWS.md or even a
> converted NEWS.html from Pandoc, e.g. you can include bug report
> numbers and attribute to users by @username (they all have hyperlinks
> attached on them, so it is easy to see more details of bugs/features
> if one really cares). Personally, I feel it is very worthwhile going
> to Github and reading the release notes there. I'd be unhappy with
> converting NEWS.md to NEWS.html by Pandoc. I know not all people use
> Github, but I feel if a package author has a NEWS.md, chances are this
> package is on Github.

Yes, NEWS.md would allow richer content than NEWS does.  That's true if
it is hosted on Github or not.  (So does NEWS.Rd, but it is so
inconvenient to write, that I think a local copy of NEWS.md would be a
better solution.)

Duncan Murdoch

> Re Kurt's analysis of NEWS.md on CRAN, I guess that is because R CMD
> check will warn against NEWS.md at the top level. I know a lot of
> packages on Github have the NEWS.md file, and it has been removed from
> the tarball to make R CMD check happy.
> Regards,
> Yihui
> --
> Yihui Xie <xieyihui at gmail.com>
> Web: http://yihui.name
> On Sat, May 23, 2015 at 8:25 AM, Gábor Csárdi <csardi.gabor at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sat, May 23, 2015 at 8:14 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> [...]
>>> I think the harder problem is display.  CRAN can run pandoc, but can
>>> users who install the package from source?  I would expect some obscure
>>> platforms (like Windows ;-) would not have it available.
>> [...]
>> I don't think pandoc is the best way to go with NEWS.md (and README.md,
>> actually). I would be surprised if many package maintainer built their
>> NEWS/README files with pandoc. They just look at them at GitHub (or another
>> similar service).
>> GitHub has API for building HTML from MarkDown:
>> https://developer.github.com/v3/markdown/
>> It can build GitHub-flavored MarkDown, in which case you get links to
>> GitHub issues, etc. or just plain MarkDown, like a GitHub README.
>> If you don't want to rely on their service, then there are a multitude of
>> lightweight MarkDown parsers available, e.g.
>> https://github.com/markdown-it/markdown-it is a good one IMO.
>> Pandoc is great for vignettes, but you don't need its full power for
>> READMEs and especially not for NEWS files. In fact most NEWS.md files look
>> good as text.
>> Gabor

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