[Rd] Best practices in developing package: From a single file

Cook, Malcolm MEC at stowers.org
Tue Jan 30 21:31:46 CET 2018

> >> I am wondering what are the best practices for developing an R
 > >> package. I am aware of Hadley Wickham's best practice
 > >> documentation/book (http://r-pkgs.had.co.nz/).  I recall a couple of
 > >> years ago there were some tools for generating a package out of a
 > >> single file, such as using package.skeleton, but no auto-generated
 > >> documentation. Do you know a way to generate documentation and a
 > >> package out of single R source file, or from an environment?

I think you want to see the approach to generating a skeleton from a single .R file presented in:

	Simple and sustainable R packaging using inlinedocs http://inlinedocs.r-forge.r-project.org/

I have not used it in some time but found it invaluable when I did.

I would be VERY INTERESTED to hear how others feel it has held up.

Joining conversation late,

~malcolm_cook at stowers.org

 > >
 > > Mehmet,
 > >
 > > This list is for development of the R language itself and closely
 > > related tools.  There is a separate list, R-pkg-devel, for development
 > > of packages.
 > >
 > > Since you're here, I'll try to answer your question.
 > >
 > > package.skeleton can create a package from all the R functions in a
 > > specified environment.  So if you load all the functions that you want
 > > in your new package into your R environment, then call
 > > package.skeleton, you'll have a starting point.
 > >
 > > At that point, I would probably recommend moving to RStudio, and using
 > > RStudio to generate markdown comments for roxygen for all your newly
 > > created function files.  Then you could finish off the documentation by
 > > writing it in these roxygen skeletons or copying and pasting from
 > > comments in your original code files.
 > I'd agree about moving to RStudio, but I think Roxygen is the wrong
 > approach for documentation.  package.skeleton() will have done the
 > boring mechanical part of setting up your .Rd files; all you have to do
 > is edit some content into them.  (Use prompt() to add a new file if you
 > add a new function later, don't run package.skeleton() again.)
 > This isn't the fashionable point of view, but I think it is easier to
 > get good documentation that way than using Roxygen.  (It's easier to get
 > bad documentation using Roxygen, but who wants that?)
 > The reason I think this is that good documentation requires work and
 > thought.  You need to think about the markup that will get your point
 > across, you need to think about putting together good examples, etc.
 > This is *harder* in Roxygen than if you are writing Rd files, because
 > Roxygen is a thin front end to produce Rd files from comments in your .R
 > files.  To get good stuff in the help page, you need just as much work
 > as in writing the .Rd file directly, but then you need to add another
 > layer on top to put in in a comment.  Most people don't bother.
 > I don't know any packages with what I'd consider to be good
 > documentation that use Roxygen.  It's just too easy to write minimal
 > documentation that passes checks, so Roxygen users don't keep refining it.
 > (There are plenty of examples of packages that write bad documentation
 > directly to .Rd as well.  I just don't know of examples of packages with
 > good documentation that use Roxygen.)
 > Based on my criticism last week of git and Github, I expect to be called
 > a grumpy old man for holding this point of view.  I'd actually like to
 > be proven wrong.  So to anyone who disagrees with me:  rather than just
 > calling me names, how about some examples of Roxygen-using packages
 > that
 > have good help pages with good explanations, and good examples in them?
 > Back to Mehmet's question:  I think Hadley's book is pretty good, and
 > I'd recommend most of it, just not the Roxygen part.
 > Duncan Murdoch
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