My first R package is on CRAN!

I woke up this morning to an email saying my first R package, holodeck, was on it’s way to CRAN! It’s a humble package, providing a framework for quickly slapping together test data with different degrees of correlation between variables and differentiation among levels of a categorical variable.

# Example use of holodeck

df <-
  #make a categorical variable with 10 observations and 3 groups
  sim_cat(n_obs = 10, n_groups = 3, name = "Treatment") %>% 
  #add 3 variables that covary
  sim_covar(n_vars = 3, var = 1, cov = 0.5) %>% 
  #add 10 variables that don't covary, but discriminate levels of Treatment
  group_by(Treatment) %>% 
  sim_discr(n_vars = 10, var = 1, cov = 0, group_means = c(-1, 0, 1)) %>% 
  #sprinkle in som NAs
  sim_missing(prop = 0.02)

“First package” isn’t entirely correct. The functions in holodeck got their start in another package that’s really just for me. While working on a manuscript I ended up writing functions for simulating multivariate data. From the beginning, I planned to share code related to the manuscript when it (hopefully) is published, but my analysis code loaded my personal package that was only on my computer and included a bunch of other stuff that was probably only useful to me. At rstudio::conf19, I asked several atendees who worked in academic positions what I should do. The answer I heard was as long as my functions might be useful to others, I should publish my package to CRAN, then just cite the published package in my manuscript.

So I pulled the relevant functions into their own standalone package, which is now called holodeck, and began working on refining, documenting, and testing those functions to get the package ready for CRAN submission. The process of creating an R package and readying it for CRAN submission was more painless than I imagined! Here some of the resources I used:

  • The usethis package provides great tools for automating many things involved in package creation.
  • The R Packages book by Hadley Wickham was a great guideline.
  • Writing tests with the testthat package.
  • I also had to learn a bit about tidyeval, because the functions I wrote were meant to work with dplyr::group_by().

I hope that others find my package useful, but even if no one else uses it, I’m happy I went through the process. It was a great learning experience, and I’m excited about the possibility of publishing other packages in the future!

Postdoctoral Researcher

I’m a postdoctoral researcher in Emilio Bruna’s lab at University of Florida working on the effects of drought and habitat fragmentation on a tropical plant. I’m interested in the mechanisms of plant responses to stress and their consequences for natural and agricultural ecosystems.

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