Collaborative Software Development Using R-Forge

TitleCollaborative Software Development Using R-Forge
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsTheußl, Stefan, and Zeileis Achim
Secondary TitleThe R Journal
Date Published05/2009
Keywordsforge, R, scm, source code repositories, statistics

Open source software (OSS) is typically created in a decentralized self-organizing process by a community of developers having the same or similar interests (see the famous essay by Raymond, 1999). A key factor for the success of OSS over the last two decades is the Internet: Developers who rarely meet face-to-face can employ new means of communication, both for rapidly writing and deploying software (in the spirit of Linus Torvald’s “release early, release often paradigm”). Therefore, many tools emerged that assist a collaborative software development process, including in particular tools for source code management (SCM) and version control.
In the R world, SCM is not a new idea; in fact, the R Development Core Team has always been using SCM tools for the R sources, first by means of Concurrent Versions System (CVS, see Cederqvist et al., 2006), and then via Subversion (SVN, see Pilato et al., 2004). A central repository is hosted by ETH Zürich mainly for managing the development of the base R system. Mailing lists like R-help, R-devel and many others are currently the main communication channels in the R community.
First, we present the core features that R- Forge offers to the R community. Second, we give a hands-on tutorial on how users and developers can get started with R-Forge. In particular, we illustrate how people can register, set up new projects, use R- Forge’s SCM facilities, provide their packages on R-Forge, host a project-specific website, and how package maintainers submit a package to the Compre- hensive R Archive Network (CRAN, http://CRAN. Finally, we summarize recent developments and give a brief outlook to future work.

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