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Re: Is tabular data in binary format acceptable for Debian ?

Le Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 09:54:44AM +0100, Andreas Tille a écrit :
> On Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 11:56:00AM +1100, Ben Finney wrote:
> > > an intermediate format
> > > (be it text, or binary like .odt or .xls) and require the addition of
> > 
> > I can't speak for the Debian ftpmaster team, but I would think the usual
> > guideline applies: We should seek "the preferred form of the work for
> > making modifications to it" as the source form of the work.
> > 
> > So, if upstream uses some canonical form of the tabular data for making
> > modifications to it, that should be in the source package.
> I perfectly agree here.  The idea that there should be a conversion to
> any other binary format like .odt (I know it is  compressed XML, but it
> is presented in binary form) or .xls would be contraproductive at best
> because you would need to install just another package to read this
> while R which just can read the data is installed via dependencies.
> Perhaps it would be a reasonable compromise if README.Source would
> mention a short command line which converts the data into text form?

Hi Andreas,

this time, I disagree with you: all the above is a lot of work that I am not
willing to do. A user of the R software is able to do this conversion by
himself, so I do not see what is the added value here.

And I think that the “the preferred form of the work” is a very unfortunate
wording. Some people prefer bananas, and others apples. As long as there is no
information loss, why not simply accept the R binary format, which can be read,
written, modified and converted with R? The method that the current upstream
developer prefers is not necessarly the same as the one others would prefer.
What matters is that the material in the sources provides the essential
freedoms to use, study, modify and distribute, and I argue that the R binary
objects do, as much as a txt.gz, a .xls or a .ods file would.

The r-cran-* packages are a large collection of small, interdependant R
libraries. If the ones that contain R binary tables are RC-buggy (which is what
is suggested by the rejection email and the absence of answer from the FTP
team), or if packaging them is time-consuming, then I am not willing to work on
R packages in Debian anymore and will remove myself from the Uploader fields
where I am currently, because I think that there are much more useful tasks in
Debian than providing text exports of R tables that nobody ever asked for until

(And of course, I do not want to prevent anybody to add these text dumps if
they want, as long as it does not become a requirement).

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Debian Med packaging team,
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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