Chapter 12 Add interactive tutorials

12.1 PART 1: Including a LearnR tutorial

12.1.1 Why do this?

LearnR tutorials are interactive R Markdown documents that allow you to incorporate code exercises as well as elements like videos and quizzes. There are many possibilities, and we point you to other resources to see various examples of these tutorials in action. The nice thing about this tool is that students can play around with code and preview various concepts outside of the RStudio IDE. One possible use case would be when you would like to introduce broader concepts in an interactive way before students begin focusing on the programming and coding aspects of the concepts within a regular .Rmd document.

12.1.2 Step 1: Create files and directories

As before, I assume you have at a minimum created the basic package structure from Part 1.

  • Install the learnr package
  • Run use_tutorial("<name-of-tutorial-file>", "<title-you'd-like-the-user-to-see>", open = interactive())

use_tutorial("Lesson1", "My Title", open = interactive())

This adds a tutorial folder to the inst directory.

12.1.3 Step 2: Customize your tutorial

  • The .Rmd file inside the tutorial folder is automatically opened. Edit it to customize your tutorial content.
  • Click Run Document next to the little green arrow in the toolbar of the .Rmd file.
    • This will generate a .html file in the same directory as the tutorial .Rmd file and also run your tutorial locally.

12.1.4 Step 3: Add additional subdirectory

At the time of writing, there is one additional folder that needs to be added, which use_tutorial did not create for us.

  • Within the subdirectory tutorials/, add a new folder with the same name as your .Rmd tutorial file.
  • Move your tutorial .Rmd file and the .html for your tutorial into this new folder.
  • Build > Install and Restart

12.1.5 Step 4: Run your tutorial

  • Run your tutorial with run_tutorial("<tutorial-name>", "<package-name>").
learnr::run_tutorial("Lesson1", "testpackage")

The above line of code is also how your users will be able to run your tutorial once they have installed your package.

If you get errors, double check that your structure for the tutorial folders and files matches that of those in the testpackage repository. Make sure you Build, Install, and Restart before trying again.


12.2.1 (Optionally) Document the package as a whole

We created documentation for the data set, but not for the package overall. To do so:

  • Run usethis::use_package_doc()
  • Edit the associated .R script that is generated in R/ with roxygen-style comments
  • Don’t forget to run document() to update the documentation
#install.packages(c("devtools", "roxygen2"))

  • Re-Build and install your package
  • Check that package documentation works by typing ? <package-name> substituting your own package name.

12.2.2 Create a README.Rmd file

You can include additional information in a README.Rmd file for your package. At a minimum, you should include a line about how to install, using the guidelines from Part 1: Deliver.

  • Run use_readme_rmd()
> use_readme_rmd()
✔ Writing 'README.Rmd'
✔ Adding '^README\\.Rmd$' to '.Rbuildignore'
● Modify 'README.Rmd'
✔ Writing '.git/hooks/pre-commit'
  • Edit to meet your needs.
  • Click Knit, so that it updates the corresponding file
  • Commit and push.

12.3 Troubleshooting

If you run into rough patches, here are some common pitfalls that might be resulting in errors:

  • Do you have most up-to-date version of your packages? Try installing the development version of the package from github. Here’s an example of what that looks like for the usethis package.
# install.packages("devtools")
  • Are you running the most current version of R and/or RStudio?
  • Did you install R via homebrew? –> Uninstall and install from CRAN!

12.4 Miscellaneous / Nice to Know

  • If you didn’t start with a repo, then you should use usethis::use_github()
  • Licensing educational materials [ASK GREG]

12.5 Other community resources on package-making:

You can find a diversity of additional helpful resources and tutorials on making R packages. We list a few below: