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Most of the Mathematica users beyond beginner level will be aware of the phenomenon of Packed Arrays. The user-accessible functions related to packed arrays live in the Developer`context and have been there for quite some time. I wonder what this means for their future use.

Is Developer` more stable than Experimental`? Can we expect this functionality to move into the kernel and what calling strategies could we adopt to minimize the effects such a move would have?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I don't think that Developer` is going to go away; there is too much (also internal) stuff depending on it. What I do at the beginning of a package:

pack = Developer`ToPackedArray;
packedQ = Developer`PackedArrayQ;

then only use those; if anything changes then it's only one place I need to change it. On the other hand a re-factoring: of Developer`ToPackagedArray is not the end of the world.

Concerning moving this to the kernel: unlikely. It has not been done in the past (for probably good reasons), why should it happen now. I don't think there is generally a way to classify stability of packages; if it is in the kernel, it is more stable than if it is in a package that you have to explicitly load.

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What would be nice if the Developer` package would get loaded by default. Then it would not matter if people type Developer`ToPackedArray or ToPackedArray. Just like JLink` these days (which did not load by default on startup until Mathematica 6). –  Rolf Mertig Jan 24 '12 at 18:36
    
@RolfMertig, I'll mention that, but I have a feeling that this is not going to happen. –  user21 Jan 24 '12 at 20:06
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