RPostgreSQL 0.2-0, 0.2-1 and an unsung Open Source hero

November 21, 2011

(This article was first published on Thinking inside the box , and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

goes back to a topic suggestion I had made for the
Google Summer of Code 2008,
and specifically for the
R Project participation that year.
And Sameer Kumar Prayaga (whom I then mentored for the project) did a fine job that summer putting together a
working framework of package connecting R and
the excellent PostgreSQL database
system. Unfortunately, Sameer vanished once the summer was up; I heard he
got himself a job a another db company.

Fast-forward a few years. A caretaker group had maintained the package in
the meantime, but without really writing any new code. But thanks to the
tireless efforts of Tomoaki Nishiyama, who not only wrote a lot of new code
addressing some of issues logged at the
Google Code project page,
but also stepped forward and became the new lead maintainer, things are much,
much better now.

The first 0.2-0 release a few weeks ago already addressed a rather large number of issues,
bringing the feature set much closer to what one would expect from a feature-complete
package. But one big thorn remained: builds on Windows still required a
local PostgreSQL library installation as well as local compilation. And as we
can tell from the mailing list(s), this is a little daunting for many
potential users. But what did release 0.2-1 bring: a complete set of libpq
sources so that builds on Windows no longer require presence of local
PostgreSQL sources! We tested this using Uwe Ligges’ excellent
win-builder service for R, and
after I reminded Uwe on the weekend to no longer blacklist build attempts of
RPostgreSQL, we
now have Windows binaries for direct installation. Just call
install.packages(), and you’re good to go — much nicer!

Tomoaki achieved this pretty much single-handedly, and for that reason he
greatly deserves some extra praise as an unsung Open Source hero!

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