Community Call - Maintaining an R Package
For this Community Call, we’re trying something different. We’ll start with a short talk by Julia Silge, then spend most of the time on Q & A with four panelists - Elin Waring, Erin Grand, Leonardo Collado-Torres, and Scott Chamberlain - moderated by Julia.
Our panelists bring a wide range of perspectives so there’s something for everyone. Collectively, they have experience developing and maintaining passion-project packages, very popular packages, too many packages on CRAN, packages on Bioconductor, and taking over maintenance (and changing things!) of a package developed by someone else.
Julia Silge’s abstract
Maintaining a piece of software is both a technical and social venture that can require skills such as evaluating conflicting user feedback or long-term planning for architecture changes. Although we don’t often talk explicitly about the ups and downs of package management, best practices can lighten the load for maintainers and result in better quality software. Maintaining an R package can be a different experience depending on who uses the package and who originally wrote the package, and encouraging more people to engage in maintenance activities supports the sustainability of our software ecosystem.
🎤 See below for speaker bios, resources, and how to join the call.
Join the community discussion!
Add your questions or tips:
- What motivated you to take up the maintenance of a package?
- What do you wish your past-self knew?
- What are your favorite resources on the topic?
- What questions do you have?
Join the Call
🕘 Wednesday, March 18, 9-10 AM PDT / 4-5 PM GMT (find your timezone)
☎️ Everyone is welcome. No RSVP needed. (This event has passed)
🎥 After the Call, we’ll post the video and collaborative notes on the archive page.
- Taking over maintenance of a software package, by Scott Chamberlain, Maëlle Salmon & Noam Ross
- Relaunching the qualtRics package, by Julia Silge
- Package evolution - changing stuff in your package, Chapter 14 in the rOpenSci software development guide
- The mail must get through, by Eric Steven Raymond
- Learning a new codebase with Patrcia Aas
Julia Silge recently joined RStudio as a Data Scientist & Software Engineer. When rOpenSci put out a call for a new maintainer for the qualtRics package, Julia took it on since she used it in her day job as a data scientist at Stack Overflow, especially working on the annual Developer Survey. Julia also maintains other R packages, including tidytext which has been downloaded 884K times.
Elin Waring is a Professor of Sociology and Interim Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing at Lehman College, CUNY. She teaches research methods and statistics. Elin was part of the unconf17 group that developed the skimr package. skimr has become very popular (257k downloads) and Elin works with Michael Quinn to maintain skimr as they have shepherded it through two major releases. She formerly was a contributor and maintainer for the Joomla! CMS project, and her approach to maintaining is influenced by that. This includes understanding the importance of having a clear concept of what you are trying to achieve, being able to politely but firmly say no and knowing having users changes everything.
Erin Grand is a Data Scientist at Uncommon Schools and a board member of R-Ladies NYC. Erin created and maintains a package for NASA’s astronomy picture of the day astropic, inspired by her early love of astronomy and that one of her own images has been featured! (Life goal achieved!) She also maintains a set of internal packages at her work.
Leonardo Collado-Torres is a Research Scientist at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development. He maintains several Bioconductor packages including the recently submitted spatialLIBD for spatial transcriptomics data. Leo is a co-founder of the LIBD rstats club and the CDSBMexico community of R and Bioconductor developers in Latin America whose members just submitted their first package to Bioconductor (regutools), representing a dramatic percent increase in Latin American Bioconductor developers.