[ESS] non-exported functions, can ESS make usage more convenient?

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 10 18:10:16 CEST 2014

This is another case where I don't understand the computer science-y
words you guys use and so I can't understand the documentation that's
right in front of me. I think...

The question now is how to develop functions using non-exported
functions from one's own package.  My code in the rockchalk package
has quite a few "rockchalk:::" usages.  I put those things in there
because the functions are not exported. It is not possible to write
new functions or to "step through" a function's code without manually
inserting the package name :::.  I had thought those usages were
actually beneficial because the eliminate the R runtime lookup for the

R 3.1 package builder now gives warnings about usages like that.

There are ::: calls to the package's namespace in its code. A package
  almost never needs to use ::: for its own objects:
See the information on DESCRIPTION files in the chapter 'Creating R

Is this the kind of thing that ESS developer mode is designed to help?

While I'm asking, I have this related problem ALL THE TIME. Somebody
else's package has a problematic function in it. So what I do is get
their code and interactively revise the function so it works better.
Then I use assignInNamespace to put my new function in place of their
function during the runtime experience so I can see if this works.
I've done this to try to persuade some packagers that I am smarter
than they are.  If I can get the same result much faster, they usually

While doing that, however, I run into the same problem that
non-exported functions that are called inside those functions fail,
and I have to go in manually and insert package:::function everywhere.

Either I have to do that, or one-by-run read their non-exported
functions into memory.


Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science      Assoc. Director
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504      Center for Research Methods
University of Kansas                 University of Kansas
http://pj.freefaculty.org               http://quant.ku.edu

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