R does not handle package non-ASCII DESCRIPTION files properly

Brian Inglis Brian.Inglis@SystematicSw.ab.ca
Tue May 5 14:55:14 GMT 2020

On 2020-05-05 02:47, Markus Hoenicka wrote:
> Am 2020-04-30 22:17, schrieb Marco Atzeri via Cygwin:
>> Am 30.04.2020 um 17:28 schrieb Markus Hoenicka:
>>> I've contacted the processx package maintainer on a problem reported here
>>> previously (see https://cygwin.com/pipermail/cygwin/2020-April/244667.html).
>>> He suggested to try the github version but that triggered a different type of
>>> error which does not seem to be package-specific.
>>> 1st try: build from a local copy of the github package sources with default
>>> locale settings on a German Windows 10 system
>>>> install.packages("/cygdrive/c/Temp/processx-master",repos=NULL,type="source")

>>> Installing package into ‘/usr/lib/R/site-library’
>>> (as ‘lib’ is unspecified)
>>> * installing *source* package ‘processx’ ...
>>> ** using staged installation
>>> Error : Invalid DESCRIPTION file
>>> Authors@R field gives no person with maintainer role, valid email
>>> address and non-empty name.
>>> See section 'The DESCRIPTION file' in the 'Writing R Extensions'
>>> manual.
>>> ERROR: installing package DESCRIPTION failed for package ‘processx’
>>> * removing ‘/usr/lib/R/site-library/processx’
>>> Warning message:
>>> In install.packages("/cygdrive/c/Temp/processx-master", repos = NULL,  :
>>>    installation of package ‘/cygdrive/c/Temp/processx-master’ had non-zero
>>> exit status

>> Noted. I will look on both the two issues but it could take a bit.
>> I never looked at the build process of R packages in such details

> kind of "while you're at it": I've noticed one additional problem with non-ASCII
> characters. This may or may not be related to the problem reported above.
> Several packages throw an error during installation, in my case questionr,
> readr, pls, and vegan. The output of the latter is shown here:
> installing to /usr/lib/R/site-library/00LOCK-vegan/00new/vegan/libs
> ** R
> ** data
> ** inst
> ** byte-compile and prepare package for lazy loading
> ** help
> *** installing help indices
> Error in Rd_info(db[[i]]) :
>   missing/empty \title field in
> '/tmp/RtmprL23H1/R.INSTALLffe51949f2e2/vegan/man/sipoo.Rd'
> Rd files must have a non-empty \title.
> See chapter 'Writing R documentation' in manual 'Writing R Extensions'.
> * removing ‘/usr/lib/R/site-library/vegan’
> The file in question (man/sipoo.Rd) starts like this:
> \encoding{UTF-8}
> \name{sipoo}
> \alias{sipoo}
> \alias{sipoo.map}
> \docType{data}
> \title{ Birds in the Archipelago of Sipoo (Sibbo and Borgå)}
> Please note that the encoding is set to UTF-8 explicitely. Nonetheless, the a
> with overring in "Borgå" seems to mess up the title, which makes R think the
> \title field is missing. Changing the å to a circumvents this problem. I've also
> noticed that non-ASCII characters outside the title field do not hurt at all.

Add "Encoding: UTF-8" to the package DESCRIPTION file and remove from .Rd files,
as documented near the bottom of the section:


referenced by:


Take care. Thanks, Brian Inglis, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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