R TUTORIAL : 2 – An Introduction to R packages13th August 2018
R packages are the fuel that drive the growth and popularity of R. R packages are bundles of code, data, documentation, and tests that are easy to share with others. Before you can use a package, you will first have to install it. Some packages, like the base package, are automatically installed when you install R. Other packages, like for example the ggplot2 package, won’t come with the bundled R installation but need to be installed.
Many (but not all) R packages are organized and available from CRAN, a network of servers around the world that store identical, up-to-date, versions of code and documentation for R. You can easily install these package from inside R, using the install.packages function. CRAN also maintains a set of Task Views that identify all the packages associated with a particular task such as for example TimeSeries.
Next to CRAN you also have bioconductor which has packages for the analysis of high-throughput genomic data, as well as for example the github and bitbucket repositories of R package developers. You can easily install packages from these repositories using the devtools package.
Finding a package can be hard, but luckily you can easily search packages from CRAN, github and bioconductor using Rdocumentation, inside-R, or you can have a look at this quick list of useful R packages.
To end, once you start working with R, you’ll quickly find out that R package dependencies can cause a lot of headaches. Once you get confronted with that issue, make sure to check out packrat (see video tutorial) or checkpoint. When you’d need to update R, if you are using Windows, you can use the updateR() function from the installr package.
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