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Preparation for Forwards Workshop

Last updated: 3rd March 2020

Computing requirements

Participants are required to bring their own laptops. Laptops should have the following installed prior to attending the workshop:

  • R (3.6.3)
  • RStudio (1.2)
  • Git
  • OS-specific development tools as detailed below

If you have older versions of R/RStudio installed, it is recommended that you install the latest versions if possible[1]. Instructions for installing all these software is given below.

In addition, please install/update the following R packages:

  • devtools
  • pkgdown
  • roxygen2
  • testthat
  • tidyverse
  • usethis

Participants should also have a GitHub account, sign up here:

Allow ~1 hour to install everything from scratch.

[1]: You can check how old your R version is by looking at the release date in the opening message in the R console, or by running R.Version()$version.string in R. You can find your RStudio version via Help > About RStudio and find the corresponding release date here:

Installing R

Download the pre-compiled binary for your OS from and install. More specifically, for version number #.#.# (e.g. 4.0.0):

For Windows

Click "Download R for Windows", then "base", then "Download R #.#.# for Windows". This will download an .exe file; once downloaded, open to start the installation. If you do not have administrator rights, the installer will default to install in your Documents folder - if you prefer, you can change the location to another folder that you have write access to.

For Mac

Click "Download R for (Mac) OS X", then "R-#.#.#.pkg" to download the installer. Run the installer to complete installation.

For Linux

Click "Download R for Linux". Instructions on installing are given for Debian, Redhat, Suse and Ubuntu distributions. Where there is a choice, install both r-base and r-base-dev.

Installing R Studio

Downloads are available from (scroll to the end of the page to see the downloads).

For Windows with no admin rights

Download the .zip source archive under "Zip/Tarballs". Extract the files to a folder where you have write access, e.g. C:\Users\username\RStudio. In this folder, open the bin directory and find the RStudio program: it is named rstudio.exe, but the file extension will typically be hidden, so look for rstudio. Right-click this executable to create a desktop shortcut. Double-click the executable or use the shortcut to open.

For all other operating systems

Download the relevant installer for your OS listed under "Installers for Supported Platforms". Run the installer to complete installation.

Development Tools

Some additional tools may be required to compile R packages from source.

For Windows with no admin rights

Download the latest (recommended) Rtools installer, Rtools.exe, from Run the installer keeping the default settings.

For Windows with admin rights

Download the latest (recommended) Rtools installer, Rtools.exe, from Run the installer making the following selections: keep the default settings for the installation location and components to install; check the box to add rtools to the system PATH.

For Mac

Install XCode. Either:

  1. Download and install XCode from the Mac AppStore:
  2. Within XCode go to Preferences : Downloads and install the Command Line Tools

Or for a smaller download size:

  1. Register as an Apple Developer (free) here:
  2. Download the Command Line Tools for XCode appropriate for the version of OS X you are running from here:

For Linux

If you installed r-base-dev, when installing R, you should have all you need to build packages from source. Otherwise return to the instructions for installing R for your distribution and follow the instructions there to install the additional tools.


We highly recommend using git for version control. We will provide a basic introduction to git using GitHub, but ultimately you will want git installed on your laptop!

If you already have git installed, check that RStudio can find it, i.e. that the path to git is filled in on Tools > Global Options > Git/SVN.

For Windows with no admin rights

Download the installer from and run keeping all the default settings. If the installer hangs with the progress bar at 100%, close the installer with Task Manager (press Ctrl + Alt + Delete; select Task Manager; find Git for Windows installer and close).

Open RStudio. In the menus go to Tools > Global Options > Git/SVN. Under "Git executable:" click Browse and find the git executable, which will be under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Programs\Git\ - remember if file extensions are hidden it will show as git rather than git.exe. Restart RStudio before trying to use git.

For all other cases

Install as advised on


If you have problems setting up your laptop we will try to help in the first hour or so of the workshop - arrive early if you can! If we cannot get you set up, you will be able to do most of the exercises on an instance and fix the setup issues after the workshop.