[R] Proposal: Package update log

Starkweather, Jonathan Jonathan.Starkweather at unt.edu
Tue Oct 2 23:36:28 CEST 2012

Thanks to all for the responses and suggestions.

I was primarily proposing a more detailed change log for packages on CRAN. To my mind, repositories like R-forge host packages more 'raw' than those on CRAN (i.e. CRAN seems to me to contain more 'finished' packages which occasionally are updated or added-to). Also, some packages on R-forge do not contain any information regarding changes/updates [I'm hesitant to offer an example because I'm really just a lemming in terms of R community stature...]. 

I guess what I'm saying is, the 
news(package = "yourPackageHere") 
function is not particularly useful currently because (in my *limited* experience) very few packages contain the news file and those which do, do not contain much in the way of description. Perhaps I'm being a bit too ambitious here, but I would just like to be able to see what has been changed (and why; if possible) each time a package is updated.

It would seem, from my rather rudimentary understanding, that using current TeX/LaTeX based tools for the basis of package documentation lends itself to having a better, more organized, change log or news file based on the package manual table of contents (toc). For instance, it would be great if we had something like: 
news(package = "yourPackageHere", function = "functionOfInterest") 
which could display a log of changes/updates sequentially for the named function of interest. Admittedly, I have not created a package myself, but I do have some experience with LaTeX and it may be as simple as changing the preamble to existing TeX file templates or style files. 

In terms of enforcement; yes I agree it would require more work from the package authors, as well as managers/moderators of CRAN; but, if we expect each package to have a working help file, then why not a (meaningfully) working 'news' file. 


Jon Starkweather, PhD
University of North Texas
Research and Statistical Support

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