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R package to show dependencies like pip show
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showpackage is an R package for quickly showing package information like pip show does for Python. It is not a package manager like miniCRAN, jetpack, packrat or any of those packages, and is not intended to be.




showpackage is designed for when you need to check package information quickly, from inside R or from the command line. Imagine you are installing R on a server without internet access and need to see package dependencies to maintain the outward tranquility of your lovely DevOps team members. With showpackage, it’s easy. For example, we may want to double-check that data.table has no external dependencies. From the terminal on Mac, for example:

showpackage data.table

The result is:

Since R is not an external dependency, and neither is methods, we can see that we were right about data.table.

We can also see how many of our installed packages depend on the package in question. Let’s see how it is for Rcpp:

The Required-by field shows us that quite a lot of the packages I’ve installed utilise Rcpp.

Inside R

showpackage can be used from inside R too, which gives you the option of saving this info as a dataframe, should you want to. An example of both options:

show_pkg("ggplot2", return_value = "data") %>% 
  as_tibble() # just for pretty printing
#> # A tibble: 1 x 9
#>   Package Version Depends Imports LinkingTo URL   Description Maintainer
#>   <chr>   <chr>   <chr>   <chr>   <chr>     <chr> <chr>       <chr>     
#> 1 ggplot2 3.2.0   R (>= … "diges… <NA>      http… "A system … "Hadley W…
#> # … with 1 more variable: MaintainerEmail <chr>


#> Package: ggplot2
#> Version: 3.2.0
#> Depends: R (>= 3.2)
#> Imports: digest, grDevices, grid, gtable (>= 0.1.1), lazyeval, MASS,
#> mgcv, reshape2, rlang (>= 0.3.0), scales (>= 0.5.0), stats,
#> tibble, viridisLite, withr (>= 2.0.0)
#> LinkingTo: None
#> Description: A system for 'declaratively' creating graphics,
#> based on "The Grammar of Graphics". You provide the data, tell 'ggplot2'
#> how to map variables to aesthetics, what graphical primitives to use,
#> and it takes care of the details.
#> Maintainer: Hadley Wickham 
#> Maintainer Email:
#> Homepage:,
#> Required by: bayesplot, brms, CausalImpact, colourpicker, cowplot, crosstalk, dlstats, forecast, ggiraph, ggridges, rstanarm, shinystan, tidyverse, viridis, ggalt, gganimate, ggrepel, plotly, rstan
#> Location: /Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Versions/3.6/Resources/library/ggplot2


Python’s pip show is really useful for quickly getting information for a particular package. R has a few tools for getting information on packages: installed.packages(); tools::dependsOnPkgs(); packageVersion(); tools::package_dependencies() as well as the package manager packages mentioned above; it also has great tools for plotting networks of the dependencies between packages. All wonderful tools, but nothing that does exactly what pip show does, which is something I really like and appreciated when I needed it for getting Python package dependencies. Here’s a comparison of pip show and showpackage:

pip show pandas does:

Name: pandas
Version: 0.24.2
Summary: Powerful data structures for data analysis, time series, and statistics
Author: None
Author-email: None
License: BSD
Location: /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.7/lib/python3.7/site-packages
Requires: numpy, python-dateutil, pytz

showpackage zoo does:

Package: zoo
Version: 1.8-6
Depends: R (>= 3.1.0), stats
Imports: utils, graphics, grDevices, lattice (>= 0.20-27)
LinkingTo: None
Description: An S3 class with methods for totally ordered indexed
observations. It is particularly aimed at irregular time series
of numeric vectors/matrices and factors. zoo's key design goals
are independence of a particular index/date/time class and
consistency with ts and base R by providing methods to extend
standard generics.
Maintainer: Achim Zeileis
Maintainer Email:
Required by: CausalImpact, dygraphs, forecast, tseries, TTR, bsts, lmtest, quantmod, xts
Location: /Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Versions/3.6/Resources/library/zoo

But who cares ’bout dependencies?? 😕

Lots of people.


Big thanks to Andrew Kane, who made jetpack. I followed similar logic to get a command line interface for showpackage.

See also

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