R Forwards Package development module: Packages in a nutshell

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A module in the "R Forwards Package Development for women and other underrepresented groups" curriculum

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Packages in a nutshell

This workshop explains what a package is and why you might want to write one. It covers where packages come from, where they live on your computer and the different states a package can be in. We will explore the key components of a package using an example and outline the Forwards approach to package development process.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module the successful learner will be able to:

  • explain the rationale for writing packages
  • find and explore their own package library/libraries
  • describe the key components of a package
  • describe the different states a package can be in
  • outline the development of a package using devtools


Before starting this module you should:

  • install R and RStudio: Guide
  • have some experience of coding in R and it will help to have previously installed and loaded packages

Joining Instructions

These will be emailed to participants about 24 hours before the workshop.

About R Forwards

R Forwards is an R Foundation task force that was originally set up in December 2015 to address the underrepresentation of women in the R community. An analysis of CRAN package maintainers estimated that fewer than 15% were women, and a useR! participant survey found that women were less likely than men to have experience contributing to or writing packages. In 2017 it was rebranded to accommodate other under-represented groups such as LGBTQI, minority ethnic groups, and people with disabilities.

Forwards have delivered face-to-face one-day workshops in Package development, supported by a grant from the R Consortium, for several years. These are heavily based on the R packages book by Hadley Wickham and Jenny Bryan. Recently we have been modularising our workshop materials to increase our reach by developing and delivering approximately one hour workshops suitable for online delivery and easy reuse by others.

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Organiser of R Forwards Package development module: Packages in a nutshell

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