Transform VisionEval source tree into runtime environment, and build installers.
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Building and Installing VisionEval

The VisionEval-install side project" makes a VisionEval source tree "installable". To use it, just clone it, setup the configuration and dependency files, and run the build scripts in order (or as of builder-v0.1, cd to the "build" directory and just run "make").

Full instructions are below, and documentation of the setup files is in the dependencies sub-directory along with examples for many recent VisionEval branches.

You can use this build process with any version of VisionEval (with appropriate changes to configuration files describing that version).

This installer addresses two VisionEval use cases:

  1. Enable developers to run and test VisionEval in an environment comparable to what end users would have.
  2. Enable end users to install a runnable VisionEval with little effort on any computer that supports R.

The following outputs are available:

  • Self-contained VisionEval "local" installation that will run on your development machine
  • Windows "offline" installer (or the equivalent for your development system architecture)
  • Multi-Platform "online" installer that will get everything it needs from the web
  • [Under Construction] Docker images for any system running Docker
  • A local R repository with all the required VisionEval packages (including VisionEval itself)

Development Environment Pre-Requisites

Prerequisites to build a VisionEval runtime environment or installer include the current release version of R for your development platform, and a suitable development environment. As of builder-v0.1, R 3.5.1 is required. The R version (minimum 3.4 in any case) will be configurable in later builder releases.

The scripting is summarized in a script (build/ intended to run under GNU bash. As of builder-v0.1, there is Makefile as well. Instructions for using these are found below.

However, the substantive work is done in R scripts that can be run interactively in R or from a command line using Rscript. Just setwd() to the "build" subfolder and source the scripts, or go to the build directory and run Rscript <scriptname.R> in Powershell or Windows CMD.

You can also initiate an RStudio project at the root of the installer directories (where this file lives) and run the scripts from within RStudio. The self-contained VisionEval installation that results from this builder (and is included in the installers) includes "VisionEval.Rproj" which a runtime user can double-click to interact with the end-user VisionEval environment using RStudio.

You can get GNU bash and a complete environment for managing VisionEval source code (and this builder) by installing Git for Windows. On a Linux machine, GNU bash is the standard command line interpreter.

You will also need a few R packages, but the build scripts will install those if they don't have them (though you must have access to the internet and you must provide a writable library directory to store them in - see below). End users will not need these tools.

Builder Pre-Requisite: RTools for Windows

To build the packages and installers on a Windows system, you need to install RTools. Installing RTools does not require administrator right. But you will need to point the installer at a writable directory (i.e. one that you as a user have write permission for). It also helps to put the RTools bin directory at the head of your path (otherwise the repository build process may fail if the Git for Windows version of "tar" is called during the R package build process, rather than the RTools version).

Builder Pre-Requisite: Linux environment

A standard R installation on Linux (whether from a package repository or directly from the R project) will include all the development tools needed to install source packages.

However, some additional system-level dependencies exist (required libraries that some of the binary dependency packages use). This does not review how to install R itself on Linux - standard installatons will include the compilers and related tools needed to build the VisionEval dependencies from source.

You can also look at the the docker/Dockerfile for system dependencies needed (beyond those already included in the base Docker image, rocker/r-ver).

On Ubuntu 18.04, installing the following packages will probably be needed (plus X11 and a few other odds and ends - watch for errors when the build scripts try to build the externals and packages).

To build "cairo" (used for nice image rendering):

sudo apt-get install libcairo2-dev
# Reportedly, you also need libxt-dev, which I already had

To build "V8" (used for who knows what):

sudo apt-get install libv8-dev

Steps to Build

The build process is script-based and takes place in R. For now, all the scripts required to construct a runtime installation of VisionEval (that you can use locally) or the offline and online .zip file installers are found in the build directory and its scripts subdirectory,though elements in other directories are used by reference.

As of builder-v0.1, there is a Makefile which makes it easier to rebuild sub-elements of the overall installation. The Makefile is pretty dumb about out-dated dependencies - it is good about not rebuilding things unnecessarily, but if you want something rebuilt, you still have to delete it manually.

Here's how to get going on building a runtime environment or installer:

Setup a writable library for development tools

One of the important features of this installer is that the development environment and runtime environment are pretty cleanly separated. You'll need some packages to run the installer builder, though the scripts will attempt to install them from CRAN if you happen not to have them already.

To support that, you may need to set up .Rprofile/.Renviron/environment variables that makes a writable R library (for your development tools) available. See Rprofile-sample for an example of what might do the trick. R has extensive documentation on setting up the environment through startup files.

Deciding which VisionEval to build

In the "dependencies" directory, you will need to create VE-config.R. The samples you will find there have comments explaining what you must set up and what is optional. The key is to point at the VisionEval source tree that you have cloned or downloaded from Github or some other repository location. You should also make sure that the VisionEval source tree has checked out the branch that you would like to build.

The simplest way to get a VisionEval source tree to install is to clone it from Github. If you have Git for Windows (or just git on Linux), you can do this:

git clone --depth=1 -b master VE-master

Using depth=1 saves you copying gigabytes of binary files that were produced in earlier test runs and committed unnecessarily to the repository. Using the -b option (replace master with your chosen branch such as develop) selects a specific branch, which may often be necessary if the default is some obsolete version languishing in master or if it contains a documentation tree. Naming the folder to clone into (VE-master in the example above) makes it simple to clone different branches to different places.

Note that cloning with --depth=1 only gets one branch, so you can't change branches within a repository clone created that way. There are switches to change that behavior that you can look up for yourself.

Building, Rebuilding and Updating dependencies

You'll also need to adjust VE-dependencies.csv to coincide with the needs of the VE you are planning to build. VE-dependencides is a table of VisionEval dependencies and elements that will be built into the runtime and installers. There are examples, and a ReadMe, that explain the format in the dependencies folder. The order is important only in that you should list dependencies of the same type in the order you would like to build them. That's especially true for the VisionEval packages themselves, which depend on each other and have to be built in a specific order. All important VE releases will eventually have working dependency files available here. If you want to handle a new VisionEval, you can pivot off the existing examples, and use the .travis.yml or Install.R scripts (though these usually have dependencies listed that you may not actually need).

Because the build process is rather smart about not rebuilding things that already exist in its output folders, it is easy to restart (or make) if something goes wrong (of course, you do have to fix whatever failed). But that's a pretty easy way to get the packages to tell you what they need (just don't list any dependencies, wait for failure, add the ones that are missing, restart from the top). That won't work for the model scripts or VEGUI, which are not currently packages - a simple "grep" through their .R files looking for "library" or "require" statements will reveal them (your text editor has command to comb across files and directories looking for terms like that, right?).

If you want to remove a package from a build, you should explicitly delete the build target (e.g. built package, local repository, installer) and rerun the corresponding build script. It is always a good idea to re-run state-dependencies.R before you do anything else so you are sure to pick up any changes to the build configuration files. The Makefile allows all of that to be easily done.

Running the build process

The script-based build process is hosted in the "build" subdirectory. You can run a bash script, use make, or run individual steps with Rscript (or bash)

Important You must set up dependencies/VE-config.R and dependencies/VE-dependencies.csv before you start building, or the builder will get huffy...

Building with make

make is under active development to drive the build process. RTools comes with GNU make, and you will also have it in any Linux environment. As of builder-v0.1, you change to the build directory and use the following make targets once you have configured the VE version and the dependencies.

  • make Just do it! Defaults to make repository; make binary; make runtime; make installers; see below
  • make repository Builds the "miniCRAN" package repository with all the VisionEval dependencies (and their dependencies, and their dependencies, and so on all the way down). At the end of this step, you will have source and Windows binary packages for all the dependencies, plus built source packages (only) for VisionEval and Github packages.
  • make binary Builds VisionEval binaries and install them for the machine architecture of your development environment. If you want Windows binaries, run this on a Windows machine. You can use it to create a runtime for Linux or Macintosh if that's where you're developing. After running this step, you'll have a local runtime environment that you can install just like an end user. See below.
  • make runtime Copy non-package source files and test data to the runtime folder (basis for the installers, and also for a local runtime test environment for the developer)
  • make installers Packages up installers: the offline installer always, and the binary offline installer if you previously ran make binary.
  • make publish You'll need to configure a website and security credentials in your bash environment, but once you've done that, this will push the package repository, the skeletal website and the built installers out to the web.
  • make docker This target builds a docker image; see the docker subdirectory and its for details.

Building with bash

The master build script can be run in Linux or Git for Windows Bash (or more generally, in the MSys for Windows Bash). Here's a complete summary of the required steps for initiating a build (in bash):

pwd # should be the root of your VisionEval-install clone
pushd dependencies
edit VE-config.R     # set ve.root to the VisionEval clone to install
edit VE-dependencies # list dependencies (see in that folder, plus examples)
pushd build
bash scripts/

Sitting back and watching the build

Rather than just running make or bash I recommend that you give yourself and your computer some freedom. Do one of these instead:

nohup make >make.out 2>&1 & tail -f make.out
nohup bash scripts/ >build.out 2>&1 & tail -f build.out

I recommend the nohup line because it will let you close the bash window, and the redirection will save errors and warnings so you can later mull over what went wrong. You don't need the "tail -f build.out" addendum (after the lone ampersand); it's just a way to look at the build output while the background process is running. You can Ctrl-C the tail process and the build will keep going. To see later where it is, you can just rerun the tail -f make.out or tail -f build.out command to start watching again.

Building interactively from within R

You can run the build steps individually as R scripts, either using Rscript or by sourcing them into an R session (either RGUI or RStudio). Just execute the Rscript xxx.R command from a bash command line with the working directory set to "build". Do the scripts in the order listed in Note that the step that builds the installer zip files is a Bash script, not an R script. If you don't have Bash, you can easily put an installer together manually:

  • the online installer just wraps up the contents of the runtime folder from the installer build output (with runtime as the working directory).
  • The offline installer just adds the ve-lib folder from the installer build output as if it were a sub-directory of runtime.

Once you have completed the steps leading up to Rscript build-packages-src.R (which build the local repository and the install dependencies) you don't need to do those again unless the project dependencies change. So you can fiddle with VisionEval modules or models and then just pick up the build process from build-packages-src.R. You should empty out the built installer's runtime folder prior to rerunning the scripts (as written, the scripts will not overwrite anything that's already there). Delete the installer .zip files if you are using make and would like to rebuild them that way.

If you are plannign to distribute one of the .zip installers, you should build from scratch (set a new ve.output directory, or delete everything in the current one). Otherwise you risk including obsolete dependencies. That's probably harmless; it just makes the installer bigger than necessary.

Key outputs of the build process

The build process constructs your VisionEval runtime, installers and supporting files in a directory called (by default) installer_YYMMDD, where YYMMDD is the date you ran the installation program. You can define ve.output to something different in your VE-config.R file (e.g. changing the name to match the version of VisionEval you're installing).

Inside the ve.output folder, you will find the following:

Item Contents
home Only present if you ran make docker - this is the basis for the docker image
pkg-repository R repository with all built and required packages (for online installer)
runtime the VisionEval folder with the installed / installable elements (see below)
ve-lib Library of installed packages for Windows (used to build "offline" installer) the online installer (needs access to a miniCRAN) the offline Windows installer

If you build on a Linux system, you'll get as the offline binary installer instead. If you make binary on Linux or Mac, you'll get a "unix" installer suitable for your local architecture.

Running VisionEval locally

The "runtime" directory in your install output directory is a ready-to-run installation of VisionEval. Just change to the runtime directory and start R. If it doesn't come right up with "Welcome to VisionEval!", you can "kick" it by doing this:


The installation is very fast on Windows, but on other systems you get a "source" installation that is used to build a native ve-lib. That entails compiling some large dependencies and VisionEval itself, which can take a while (typically well under an hour).

Later, you can start VisionEval just by changing to the runtime directory and starting R (or setting up an R shortcut with the "Start In" folder set to your runtime).

Alternatively, on Windows, you can run the Install-VisionEval.bat file, then double-click RunVisionEval.RData. But those shortcuts won't work unless you were able to install R as an "administrator" of your system.

Docker Images

See the Docker in the docker directory for an explanation of how to build the Docker images for VisionEval, and also what they provide. You can use make docker to build the images, provided you're on a system that supports bash-scripted command line docker instructions (typically a Linux system, rather than Windows, though there's no reason the latter shouldn't work as long as the command line tools are available).

Publishing the installers

The .zip files that you'll find in your "installer" root directory (where all the built stuff is) can be published to the web. I've included a bash script in the build directory that I use to push the updated installers and package repository to my website,

There's also the www folder which contains a skeletal .html-based website used to power my website, but you can safely ignore it.