Forcing Yourself to Make Your Life Easier

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Author: Rory Nolan

Something that will make life easier in the long-run can be the most difficult thing to do today. For coders, prioritizing the long term may involve an overhaul of current practice and the learning of a new skill. This can be painful for a number of reasons:

  1. We have to admit to ourselves that we’ve been doing things inefficiently (i.e. wasting time). This makes us feel stupid and fosters a sense of missed opportunity: we could’ve done something cool with the time we’d have saved (e.g. vacation).
  2. We’re fond of our existing methods, probably because we’re used to them and they’ve served us pretty well thus far.
  3. Read the full blog post for the rest! https://ropensci.org/blog/2018/04/12/ijtiff/
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Really awesome motivator and frank discussion of the ups and downs of getting into “learning” mode for all the right reasons. Kudos!

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I think something along the lines of a bookdown book called “Wrapping C/C++ libraries in R packages: patterns and practices” would be a huge contribution. I’m sure we’d have many contributors (@jeroenooms, @hrbrmstr) if Rory wants to take up organizing.

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Alrighty, I’ll do it! It’s a good excuse to get to know bookdown anyway. I’m quite busy writing up my thesis at the moment but I’ll make a start on this bookdown thing this week. That way it will go from my “unstarted projects” into my “unfinished projects” which means it will get done eventually. I’d appreciate your help in trying to rope in some help from wizards such as Jeroen and Bob.
Thanks for the encouragement :slight_smile:

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@jeroenooms @hrbrmstr over here :point_up_2:

Great post! I was instantly reminded of the xkcd comic on “Automation” (https://xkcd.com/1319/) and “Is it worth the time?” (https://xkcd.com/1205/). Although there is some cost involved in doing so I ultimately writing a package will teach you valuable skills and take you from a useR to a developR; it might even help others save time in the future. I believe it was @drob who said if you do something more than 3 times you should write a function - some sage advice. However, @JennyBryan 's idea of writing your first R package to keep track of the miscellaneous R functions you write and reuse takes this one step further. Thanks for this awesome post which has finally gotten me over the fear of making my first package; even If I don’t distribute it publicly (e.g. CRAN) it should be easier to keep track of all my most used functions, and I’ll be much more likely to reuse them.

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Thanks for reading it and for the kind words. I hadn’t seen that xkcd, it’s brilliant, I’m laughing right now!
Best of luck writing that package. Be sure to use Hadley’s “R Packages” book. Makes the whole thing easier.

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Re: The C(PP)R wrap: I’ve been trying to find time to pull together a Makevars manual of sorts for a while, coz that is such a crucially missing piece of the puzzle where “Writing R Exts” pretty comprehensively fails to help. I’d love to be involved in that bit!

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Hi @mpadge, would love to have you involved. Dragging my feet on this a bit at the moment but when it gets going I’ll be sure to annoy you into making this contribution!

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