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Upcoming SpaDES Workshops:

If you are interested in being put on the email list for future courses, please email:

  • Eliot McIntire (eliot.mcintire at

POSTPONED To be rescheduled

Location & Times

Virtual (Google Meets Link to come), 11am - 2pm Pacific Standard Time, each day

We have organized a set of sessions, back to back, starting from the most "general", and ending with the most "detailed". The hope is to attract non-modelers (e.g., managers, scientists, practitioners) to the first session, people who think they might want to see more how models work (e.g., scientists, students, technicians), and those who want to build and use models for research and operational purposes (e.g., scientists, technicians, programmers).

Workshop outline

(in progress -- but likely stable enough to follow for installations -- updated Jan 19, 2021)

Introduction to SpaDES - Sections 1-3

  • Sections 1-2 - ~2+ hours – This is a high level intro for scientists, managers, policy makers, decision makers, coupled with examples of ongoing projects in SpaDES that will showcase the utility of the framework.

  • Section 3 - ~2+ hours – This section will take you through high-level examples of how to run pre-made SpaDES modules, run modules from other people, and change model parameters.

Learning SpaDES - Sections 4-6

  • Section 4 - 2+ hours – we will take you through basic SpaDES concepts, while using the previous day's examples to get you started with understanding the packages and framework.

  • Sections 5-6 - 2+ hours – This is intended to dive a little bit into the code, learn how to create relatively simple modules and establish links between modules. WE will also touch upon essential aspects of programming with SpaDES, such as caching and debugging.

This is a high level intro for scientists, managers, policy makers, decision makers, coupled with examples of ongoing projects in SpaDES that will showcase the utility of the framework.

My first project in SpaDES - Section 7

  • Section 7 - 4+ hours – during this section you'll be given free time to create your own project from scratch, or adapt an existing project and create new modules.

Before workshop begins

You will need to do a few things:

  1. Install R development tools, if you don't have them;
  2. Decide on a folder for everything in the workshop;
  3. Install lots of packages -- and make sure it all worked;
  4. Install a few SpaDES modules into that folder;
  5. Install the R packages required by these modules.

Each of these steps is described in furthre detail below.

If you are using Ubuntu Linux, please see section below for installing binary package files

All the steps below can be found in a single R file, which may be easier to use

If you are feeling lucky, you can try this to do it all:

# source("")

Install R development tools if you don't have them

For more information, see here.

  • Windows: install Rtools as administrator.
  • macOS: install Xcode commandline tools from the terminal: xcode-select --install.
  • Debian/Ubuntu Linux: ensure r-base-dev is installed.

To confirm everything is installed correctly, run this next line in your R console/Rstudio session. If it shows a "non-empty" path, then you have what you need for the workshop.


If it shows something like this:


Then you will have to debug your Rtools installation using the internet as your friend.

Decide on your folder you will use for the workshop

workshopPath = "~/SpaDESWorkshop"
modulePath = file.path(workshopPath, "modules")

Install Packages

  1. Get a few helper functions (installGitHubPackage, getModule)

    ## Restart your R session so it is clear
    ## Ctrl-shift-F10 if you are in Rstudio
  2. Install latest Require to help with package installation (check that you have one already -- you need one already installed; then update, if required)

    installedPkgs <- installed.packages(.libPaths()[1])
    if (!"Require" %in% rownames(installedPkgs))
      install.packages("Require") # to make sure you have 2 dependencies (data.table, remotes)
    if (!identical(as.character(packageVersion("Require")), "0.0.11"))
      installGitHubPackage("PredictiveEcology/Require@development") # install latest version of Require
  3. Decide whether you want to install packages (and versions) in an isolated folder

    # This isn't perfect as it will not be totally isolated
    # .libPaths(file.path(workshopPath, "R"))
    # if you want it fully isolated, you will have to run this file in 2 steps:
    # Run this next line, then restart session
    # Require::setup(file.path(workshopPath, "R"))
    # Then restart your session and run it all again
  4. Install (or update) SpaDES and around 130 package dependencies (if needed)

  • (note igraph needs to be installed from source on Linux-alikes)

  1. install another 50 or so packages used by modules

      upgrade = "never", 
      which = c("Imports", "Depends", "Suggests"))

Install a few modules

See Wiki of known modules

if (dir.exists(modulePath)) unlink(modulePath, recursive = TRUE)
# LandR Biomass modules (simulation modules)
getModule("PredictiveEcology/Biomass_core", modulePath = modulePath)
getModule("PredictiveEcology/Biomass_regeneration", modulePath = modulePath)

# LandR Biomass modules (data preparation modules)
getModule("PredictiveEcology/Biomass_borealDataPrep", modulePath = modulePath)
getModule("PredictiveEcology/Biomass_speciesData", modulePath = modulePath)

# SCFM fire modules
getModule("PredictiveEcology/scfm@development", modulePath = modulePath, overwrite = TRUE)

Install the package dependencies of those modules

# If you have been using the binary package manager for Ubuntu, you have to turn it off
if (isTRUE(grepl("packagemanager", getOption("repos")[["CRAN"]]))) 
  options("repos" = c(CRAN = ""))
modulesInstalled <- dir(modulePath)
dependencies <- SpaDES.core::reqdPkgs(module = modulesInstalled, modulePath = modulePath)  

# scfm is actually a collection of modules... the modules are nested in folders
scfmModulePath <- file.path(modulePath, "scfm", "modules")
scfmModulesInstalled = dir(scfmModulePath)

dependencies <- append(dependencies, 
                       SpaDES.core::reqdPkgs(module = scfmModulesInstalled, 
                                             modulePath = scfmModulePath) ) 

needed <- unique(unlist(dependencies, recursive = FALSE))
Require::Require(needed, require = FALSE, upgrade = "never")

Tips tells you error 403

It can happen that if you try downloading from GitHub many times, you exceed the API rate limit:

Downloading GitHub repo PredictiveEcology/SpaDES@master
Error: HTTP error 403.
  API rate limit exceeded for ###.###.##.###. 

The error should provide the solution to fixing this problem, but if for some reason you don't find these instructions, here they are:

  • Use usethis::browse_github_pat() to create a GitHub token
  • Use usethis::edit_r_environ() and add the environment variable with GITHUB_PAT = 'your_github_token'. Restart R (so that the GITHUB_PAT is read) and try to reinstall: devtools::install_github(...)

Ubuntu Linux systems -- Binary R Packages

Because there are a lot of packages, it may be faster to install binaries from the Rstudio CRAN mirror. To use this CRAN mirror, you can run this code to set up the correct CRAN repository. If you put this in your .Rprofile file, then your R sessions will always use this binary repository:

options("repos" = c(CRAN = ""))

if (["sysname"] == "Linux" && grepl("Ubuntu", utils::osVersion)) {
  .os.version <- strsplit(system("lsb_release -c", intern = TRUE), ":\t")[[1]][[2]]
  .user.agent <- paste0(
    "R/", getRversion(), " R (",
    paste(getRversion(), R.version["platform"], R.version["arch"], R.version["os"]),
  options(repos = c(CRAN = paste0("",
                                  .os.version, "/latest")))
  options(HTTPUserAgent = .user.agent)

Workshop materials

If you are comfortable with, you can clone the entire SpaDES.Workshops repository and thus have all the *.Rmd files used in this workshop:

For a direct link to the workshops, click on the top navigation bar or go here


SpaDES wiki pages


Workshops given for various audiences with the SpaDES package




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