[Rd] NEWS.md support on CRAN

Baptiste Auguie baptiste.auguie at gmail.com
Sun May 24 02:51:16 CEST 2015

John MacFarlane, the author of Pandoc, has been working on a project (
http://commonmark.org/) to define a standard reference for Markdown*. There
are already two reference implementations, one in javascript, the other in
C:  https://github.com/jgm/cmark



* There was some initial controversy with the original author of markdown,
but in the long term it's probably one of the more reliable sources to

On 24 May 2015 at 12:00, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 23/05/2015 9:25 AM, Gábor Csárdi wrote:
> > On Sat, May 23, 2015 at 8:14 AM, Duncan Murdoch
> > <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com <mailto: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.
> I wouldn't want R builds to depend on GitHub, so this sounds more
> interesting.  I took a look at that website, and it looks problematic to
> me:  the parser appears to be written in Javascript, and the install
> instructions (using "npm" and "bower", whatever those are) depend on
> some unstated prerequisites.  In principle there's no reason not to
> allow R builds to depend on these things, but adding a dependency like
> that implies so much testing that I can't imagine anyone who could do it
> would want to.
> It's likely that a suitable parser could be written in some combination
> of C and R -- Markdown is not a complicated language.
> > 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.
> But we do need something, and it needs to be essentially universally
> available, or small enough to include in the R sources.  I think R
> should eventually support Markdown as an acceptable language for
> documentation (including NEWS.md, and also help files for functions),
> but I think the effort required to do it now is too much.
> Duncan Murdoch
> >
> > Gabor
> >
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