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  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Working Effectively with Support

When simultaneously learning a new tool and working toward a deliverable deadline, getting timely help with technical problems is critical. If you work with R/Oracle R Distribution, Oracle R Enterprise, or Oracle R Advanced Analytics for Hadoop and need to engage support resources, we recommend doing everything you can to expedite a solution to the problem you are facing. The following tips on working effectively with support will enable more efficient communication, leading to faster resolution on most issues.

Preliminary Research
If the question is related to base R, search the R-Help mailing list on CRAN and the R section of Stack Overflow.  If the question is specific to Oracle's R offerings, search the Oracle Developer Community R Technologies Forum and My Oracle Support. The r-project posting guide shows several ways to search for R help, lists the common mistakes people make in posting questions and provides details on the resources available for getting help. Stack Overflow provides some excellent suggestions on posting questions, including doing the work to thoroughly research your question.

When it comes time to initiate a Service Request through My Oracle Support, share your research and troubleshooting steps. Describe what you tried and the reasons it didn’t resolve your issue. This helps get a specific and relevant response to your question. In addition, provide the following information:

Product Name
When presenting questions related to Oracle's R products, provide the full name of the product being used. A common error is referring to product "Oracle R", but there's no product called "Oracle R". Oracle's Advanced Analytics R products include:

Version Information
Always include the version of each component you are using: R/Oracle R Distribution, Oracle R Enterprise, Oracle Database (or appliance, such as ODA, BDA or Exadata) and Operating System.

$ uname -a
Linux 4.1.12-61.1.23.el6uek.x86_64 #2 SMP Tue Dec 20 16:51:41 PST 2016 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

R> version$version.string
[1] "Oracle Distribution of R version 3.2.0  (--)"

R> packageVersion("ORE")
[1] ‘1.5’

R> packageVersion("ORCH")
[1] ‘2.7.0’

Reproducible Example
The key element to help customers resolve R-related problems is to provide a minimal reproducible example along with a description of the problem. If data cannot be shared, create a sample data set or use one of R's built-in data sets to reproduce the problem. Include sufficient contextual information, so that support understands your goal. If the problem is complicated or contains lengthy code, identify the problem R function and provide a simpler script that reproduces the problem whenever possible.
 
A simple reproducible example consists of the following items:

  • A minimal data set necessary to reproduce the error.
  • The minimal code necessary to reproduce the error, which can be run on the given data set.

Looking at the examples in R help files is often helpful. In general, all the code there fulfills the requirements of a minimal reproducible example: data and minimal code are provided, and everything is executable. To view the help file for a given R function, type at the R prompt:

R> help(function name)

For example, one can load the help file for the lm() function using this syntax:

R> help(lm)

Installation Logs
If you are facing an installation problem, in addition to the Operating System, R version and other relevant product versions, provide the installation log showing the commands executed and the resulting errors. Indicate whether the installation is on the server or client side. In the case of installation, most of the answers already exist in the product's installation guide. 

Other Tips:
Be as specific as you can in describing your problem. State exactly what happened including the executed code, where it is executed, and any error messages received. Providing only the error message is often insufficient to resolve the problem. Support will often need to duplicate the issue, even if they have worked with similar code and errors in the past. Above all, carefully consider the information support may need to reproduce the problem on their system prior to submitting your question.

The majority of questions regarding Oracle R Distribution, Oracle R Enterprise an Oracle R Advanced Analytics for Hadoop sent to support require more information upfront. Providing the details in this post will lead to a timely answer.

See also MOS Doc ID 166650.1 for a more general set of tips on working effectively with Oracle Support.

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