Generate roxygen2 skeletons populated with information scraped from the function script.
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CRAN_Status_Badge Project Status: Active - The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed. downloads Travis-CI Build Status


Sinew is a R package that generates a roxygen2 skeleton populated with information scraped from the function script.


# or:
# devtools::install_github('metrumresearchgroup/sinew')

Online User Manual Gitbook

A gitbook is maintained as the user manual for the package, you can access it here:


How can sinew help you?

sinew automates tasks that are part of R package documentation and maintance in order to help developers consistently create robust roxygen2 documentation and pass R CMD check --as-cran.

Quick Turn Around

Two common scenarios arise in package development

  • You start a new project and open a file to develop your idea. Many functions later at the end of the day you look up and you have created a mess of a file.

  • You recieve a mammoth 10,000 line uncommented file to decipher for QC - good luck.

Sinew can help turn the around that headache into a CRAN ready package in a few short steps

  1. Open a package project in Rstudio
  2. Place the file in the project root
  3. Run untangle on the large script with the destination directory ./R. This will separate the core functions in the body into single function files (named as the function) and keep the body in body.R.
  4. Run pretty_namespace to append any missing namespaces in the function scripts.
  5. Run makeOxyFile with the path set to ./R.
  6. Run makeImport to create the correct Imports in the DESCRIPTION file and paste it in the the DESCRIPTION file.

This should get you far enough to make the impossible problem of understanding what is in that file to a manageable task, with the added benefit of producing a new package ready for distribution.

Working example

Lets use a reproducible example - The goal is to convert raw script in a file called test.R into a package.

The file includes two functions yy and zz and some general script that uses them

#some comment
yy <- function(a=4){
  # a comment

zz <- function(v=10,a=8){



To start we initialize a R subdirectory and a DESCRIPTION file.


Untangling Files

One of the first tasks for new developers is to move from long scripts that are intertwined with functions and body code into single function files in a R subdirectory and a clean body script that is easier to read.

This task is probably a non-starter if you have more than a few hundered lines of code. This is where untangle can save you time. untangle will separate the long script into single function files in a subdirectory and keep the body script intact.

untangle(file = 'test.R',dir.out = 'R')

As we can see we got three new files. - body.R in the working directory - yy.R in the R subdirectory - zz.R in the R subdirectory


It has become common practice to use the namespace in function calls, and it is obligatory in order to pass a cran check. But, not everyone does it and if you're not use to it, it's a pain to go back and update your script.

This is where pretty_namespace comes in. This function will go through your script and attach namespaces for you, with the same logic as the search path.

pretty_namespace('R',overwrite = TRUE)

So now we have separate files with functions appropriatly associated with namespaces, and now we can add roxygen2 headers.


Now we are ready to create the function documentation using roxygen2. We use makeOxygen to create a skeleton for roxygen2 documentation. This function returns a skeleton that includes title, description, return, import and other fields populated with information scraped from the function script. We can also run makeOxygen in batch mode using makeOxyFile.

makeOxyFile('R',overwrite = TRUE)

Lets see what we got back in zz.R:

#' @param v PARAM_DESCRIPTION, Default: 10
#' @param a PARAM_DESCRIPTION, Default: 8
#' @details DETAILS
#' @examples 
#' \dontrun{
#' if(interactive()){
#'  }
#' }
#' @seealso 
#'  \code{\link[utils]{head}}
#'  \code{\link[stats]{runif}}
#' @rdname zz
#' @export 
#' @author Jonathan Sidi
#' @importFrom utils head
#' @importFrom stats runif
zz <- function(v=10,a=8){

The premise of makeOxygen is to expand on the default skeleton in RStudio, so basic fields are in the output by default. Each field is given with a relevant placeholder giving a hint what is expected. The following is the meat add to these bones:

  • param default values:
    • If a default value is set for a function parameter it will be added to the end @param line.
  • import/importFrom
    • The package scrapes the script with makeImport looking for declared namespaces to create the proper calls for @import and @importFrom which are placed at the bottom of the output.
  • seealso
    • linking to other packages is also taken care of when adding the field @seealso. Any functions that are included in @importFrom will have a link to them by default.


It is also important to update the package description file Imports field. This can be done for you with makeImport, by either creating a new Imports field or updating an existing one.

makeImport('R',format = 'description',desc_loc = '.')

Update documentation

An important part of maintaining a package is keeping the documentation updated. Using moga we can achieve this painlessly. moga runs the same underlying script as makeOxygen but appends new information found into the current roxygen2 header instead of creating a new one.

Lets say we updated yy.R to include another param and used another function from the stats package. So the roxygen2 header is now out of synch with the current script.

#some comment
#' @param a numeric, set the head to trim from random unif Default: 4
#' @details DETAILS
#' @examples 
#' \dontrun{
#' if(interactive()){
#'  }
#' }
#' @seealso 
#'  \code{\link[utils]{head}}
#'  \code{\link[stats]{runif}}
#' @rdname yy
#' @export 
#' @author Jonathan Sidi
#' @importFrom utils head
#' @importFrom stats runif
yy <- function(a=4,b=2){
  x <- utils::head(stats::runif(10*b),a)
  # a comment
moga('R/yy.r',overwrite = TRUE)

Oxygenize and Check

Updating test documentation
Loading test
First time using roxygen2. Upgrading automatically...
Updating roxygen version in /Users/jonathans/projects/sinew/Miscellaneous/test/DESCRIPTION
Writing yy.Rd
Writing zz.Rd
R CMD Check
* Updating license field in DESCRIPTION.
* Creating `LICENSE` from template.

devtools::check(cran = TRUE)
Updating test documentation
Loading test
Setting env vars -------------------------------------------------------
CFLAGS  : -Wall -pedantic
CXXFLAGS: -Wall -pedantic
Building test ----------------------------------------------------------
'/Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Resources/bin/R' --no-site-file  \
  --no-environ --no-save --no-restore --quiet CMD build  \
  '/Users/jonathans/projects/sinew/Miscellaneous/test'  \
  --no-resave-data --no-manual 

* checking for file/Users/jonathans/projects/sinew/Miscellaneous/test/DESCRIPTION... OK
* preparingtest:
* checking DESCRIPTION meta-information ... OK
* checking for LF line-endings in source and make files
* checking for empty or unneeded directories
* buildingtest_0.0.0.9000.tar.gzSetting env vars -------------------------------------------------------
Checking test ----------------------------------------------------------
'/Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Resources/bin/R' --no-site-file  \
  --no-environ --no-save --no-restore --quiet CMD check  \
  '/var/folders/4_/xhs9__yd49l4v4j4wdg9f0wr0000gp/T//Rtmp1KA1SX/test_0.0.0.9000.tar.gz'  \
  --as-cran --timings --no-manual 

* using log directory/private/var/folders/4_/xhs9__yd49l4v4j4wdg9f0wr0000gp/T/Rtmp1KA1SX/test.Rcheck* using R version 3.3.3 (2017-03-06)
* using platform: x86_64-apple-darwin13.4.0 (64-bit)
* using session charset: UTF-8
* using options--no-manual --as-cran* checking for filetest/DESCRIPTION... OK
* this is packagetestversion0.0.0.9000* package encoding: UTF-8
* checking package namespace information ... OK
* checking package dependencies ... OK
* checking if this is a source package ... OK
* checking if there is a namespace ... OK
* checking for executable files ... OK
* checking for hidden files and directories ... OK
* checking for portable file names ... OK
* checking for sufficient/correct file permissions ... OK
* checking whether packagetestcan be installed ... OK
* checking installed package size ... OK
* checking package directory ... OK
* checking DESCRIPTION meta-information ... OK
* checking top-level files ... OK
* checking for left-over files ... OK
* checking index information ... OK
* checking package subdirectories ... OK
* checking R files for non-ASCII characters ... OK
* checking R files for syntax errors ... OK
* checking whether the package can be loaded ... OK
* checking whether the package can be loaded with stated dependencies ... OK
* checking whether the package can be unloaded cleanly ... OK
* checking whether the namespace can be loaded with stated dependencies ... OK
* checking whether the namespace can be unloaded cleanly ... OK
* checking loading without being on the library search path ... OK
* checking dependencies in R code ... OK
* checking S3 generic/method consistency ... OK
* checking replacement functions ... OK
* checking foreign function calls ... OK
* checking R code for possible problems ... OK
* checking Rd files ... OK
* checking Rd metadata ... OK
* checking Rd line widths ... OK
* checking Rd cross-references ... OK
* checking for missing documentation entries ... OK
* checking for code/documentation mismatches ... OK
* checking Rd \usage sections ... OK
* checking Rd contents ... OK
* checking for unstated dependencies in examples ... OK
* checking examples ... OK

Status: OK

R CMD check results
0 errors | 0 warnings | 0 notes
Does it work?

[1] 0.84515305 0.72393508 0.74036634 0.03006037 0.67631049 0.71084114
[7] 0.86142639 0.12371146