[R] R package organization
friendly at yorku.ca
Wed Apr 3 16:44:28 CEST 2002
>6) Better layout of packages listed on CRAN. This listing
>collapse under its own weight once it gets too large.
As a new R user, I have thought for some time that the organization
of packages, and functions within packages, in R needs some more
coherent structure, perhaps something like the hierarchy of classes
used in Perl and contributed to CPAN. For example, Perl modules
are listed on CPAN organized in a tree containing top-level categories
Archiving and Compression
Commercial Software Interfaces
Control Flow Utilities
Data Type Utilities
File Handle Input Output
each of these contain numerous subcategories, and there is a
coherent relationship between the subcategories and the directory
structure for installed modules. So, to use functions to search
for files on my file system, I say
and if someone writes a new module, say FastCopy.pm it goes into
/usr/lib/perl5/File/FastCopy.pm in my Perl library.
In R, on the other hand, everything goes into R/rw104x/library,
and each pachage contains all its functions within packagename/R,
so there is only a very flat organization across packages
and within packages.
Some packages are quite coherent and relate to a single general
class of methods (John Fox's sem package, for example), while
others are a heterogeneous collection of tools which someone
found useful, and kindly took the effort to document and make public.
This makes it quite difficult, sometimes to find a function for
a given task, and I see this reflected both in my own
efforts to use R as well as in many queries on this list, often
answered repeated with a brief
It also makes it difficult for one person to extend another's
work, e.g., by writing new functions or enhancing others
from an existing package.
This is not a criticism of the R Development Team, but, as
R continues to grow, and more people make contributions to
CRAN, perhaps it is time for some thought to be given to a
reorganization of package structure.
As I look over the list of packages on CRAN, I don't see
any obvious categories, but perhaps others will have some
ideas on this topic.
Michael Friendly friendly at yorku.ca
York University http://www.math.yorku.ca/SCS/friendly.html
4700 Keele Street Tel: (416) 736-5115 x66249
Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3 Fax: (416) 736-5814
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