[R] how to deal with deprecated functions

J C Nash pro|jcn@@h @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Thu Dec 5 16:18:45 CET 2019

I would second Rui's suggestion. However, as a package developer and maintainer, I think
it is important to note that users need to be encouraged to use good tools. I work with optimization
codes. My software was incorporated into the optim() function a LONG time ago. I have updated
and expanded the methods in packages, particularly optimx. But CRAN regularly imposes new
standards. Worse, there are recent changes in gfortran which may or may not be justified.
In the last couple of months, I've had several messages from CRAN to "fix" my packages,
though likely there is nothing "wrong" with the code, but it doesn't have quite the right
setup for the altered R. Within reason, I'm willing to do a bit of cleanup from time to
time. And to add new features and capabilities as I am able.

For users, there is another lurking danger. I've been merging some of my packages to reduce the
number I have to maintain. I retired from teaching in 2008, so it is not unimaginable that
there might not be a maintainer rather suddenly. I've had users send quite rude messages
"Why don't you fix this program". Well, some maintainers will gladly do so if you arrange their

More realistically, it has always been time for younger members of the R community to team up
with older ones so we have a succession plan. Current CRAN seems fixated on single person
maintainers, but I think CRAN and other open-source projects need to consider
group maintenance -- several people maintaining several packages. That isn't picking a
fight with the CRAN folk -- things evolved and it is difficult to change a working system.


On 2019-12-05 9:49 a.m., Rui Barradas wrote:
> Hello,
> If you are talking about CRAN packages, like it seems you are, then there is no general purpose solution. What is
> deprecated depends on each package's team of developers/maintainer.
> Since R is open source and so must be all CRAN packages, a possible solution is to have your own package of deprecated
> functions. This package could be used while you don't recode your scripts, or even used for ever, as long as those
> functions, maybe with a different name,  do not conflict with the new behavior of the rest of the packages they came
> from. Is not that difficult to write a package, and in this case you would even have more examples, if needed.
> Hope this helps,
> Rui Barradas
> Às 19:07 de 04/12/19, Nestor Toledo escreveu:
>> Hello everyone, even I'm not fluent in coding, R has become a fundamental part of my daily work as a researcher and
>> I'm very much grateful for such a wonderful, open tool. However, I have faced in many opportunities the problems
>> associated with updates/upgrades of packages. Frequently packages developers modify command syntax or directly
>> deprecate entire functions. This becomes a nuisance, since I must to recode my scripts partially or totally, or even
>> search for alternative functions in other packages. Is there any solution to this, other than skip updates or keeping
>> old versions installed in a different folder? Could be acceptable ask developers to do not deprecate functions but
>> keep them as "legacy" ones or similar?
>> Thanks in advance and I apologize for my deficient English grammar
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