R does not handle package non-ASCII DESCRIPTION files properly

Marco Atzeri marco.atzeri@gmail.com
Tue May 5 16:25:59 GMT 2020

Am 05.05.2020 um 16:55 schrieb Brian Inglis:
> 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:
> https://cran.r-project.org/doc/manuals/R-exts.html#The-DESCRIPTION-file
> referenced by:
> https://stackoverflow.com/questions/18080303/rd-files-with-different-encoding

the original issue was in a package that was following the rule, so 
there is something at fault in the Cygwin R package reading UTF-8 files.

May be is the same root cause that is causing a single
fault in reading/writing during build test.

I am looking on the 4.0.0 before releasing but I am not a R user
so it takes time.


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