[Rd] stringsAsFactors and type.convert()

Martin Maechler m@ech|er @end|ng |rom @t@t@m@th@ethz@ch
Mon Apr 20 18:23:31 CEST 2020

>>>>> Arni Magnusson 
>>>>>     on Mon, 13 Apr 2020 22:20:19 +0000 writes:

    > If read.table() is defaulting to "character" instead of "factor" data type, shouldn't type.convert() also default to "character" in R 4.0.0?
    > This would seem like a good time to change the default to type.convert(as.is=TRUE), to align it with the new default in read.table and data.frame. I think many R >=4.0.0 users would be happy with as.is=TRUE as the default in type.convert.

    > I'm happy to work on the patch and run tests if that is helpful.

    > Cheers,
    > Arni

Dear Arni,
thank you for the notice, which unfortunately wasn't noticed
(Easter break etc) and was too late in any case to fulfill the
criterion of a small trivial bug fix  for  R 4.0.0 beta (very close
to becoming RC (= "Release Candidate").

Even when type.convert() may not be used much directly (but
rather indirectly via read.table() where there's no problem), we
found it too risky to destabilize the R 4.0.0 prereleases.
As you all know there were ( / are?) still package changes
needed and a few other important "todo"s, so we had to decide to
postpone this (even for R-devel) to after releasing R 4.0.0
coming Friday.

I've committed a change to the help page which does mention that
the default for 'as.is' is planned to be changed.

Also, the help page's  "Details" section, for a long time has
ended with

     Since this is a helper function, the caller should always pass an
     appropriate value of 'as.is'.

If useRs and package authors have followed this advice, they
won't be bitten at all.

Best regards,

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