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Browse the CRAN package database and package dependencies
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app Trend features added Jun 15, 2019
packrat packrat snapshot updated Mar 8, 2019

CRAN Explorer

Explore CRAN packages in an interactive R Shiny app. You can see the application in action on

The goal of this project is to demonstrate the development of a complete data service entirely written in the statistical programming language R. Besides this web application, the project includes the creation of a data refresh process (also written in R) that runs inside an AWS Docker container on a daily schedule. Additionally, efforts were made to develop this project in a reproducible way by controlling the operating environmentand the used R version (through Docker containers), a complete list of all required R packages and their specific versions (through packrat) with the intention to promote collaborative development and to reduce the friction of the setup process of R projects in heterogeneous development environments.

Shiny app

This web application is written using the R Shiny web framework. It demonstrates the use of custom HTML templates in Shiny apps to create a fancy user experience. The theme used in this app is made by Colorlib. The app was developed with best Shiny practices in mind, e.g. the use of Shiny modules. In total about 1,100 lines of code were written for this app in less than 80 hours. This time included app ideation and all required research of data sources, data preparation and its operationalisation, app development, design and how to best present the information.

Setup development environment

The development environment of this project is encapsulated in a Docker container.

  1. Install Docker. Follow the instructions on
  2. Make docker run without sudo
    sudo groupadd docker
    sudo usermod -aG docker $USER
    Log out and log back in so that your group membership is re-evaluated
  3. Clone the GIT repository
    git clone
  4. Setup development Docker container
    cd cran-explorer
    You should see lots of container build messages
  5. Spin up the container
  6. Open http://localhost:8787 in your browser to start a new RStudio session
  7. Install R packages required for this app. Type the following instructions into the R session window of RStudio
    The installation will take a few minutes. The package library will be installed into the packrat/lib directory of the project path.
  8. Open the file app/global.R and hit the "Run app" button in the toolbar of the script editor (or type shiny::runApp("app") in the R session window). The Shiny app should open in a new window. You may need to instruct your browser to not block popup windows for this URL.


The data for this app is extracted from MetaCRAN which provides a database of all packages on CRAN and their publication history. The extraction processes transforms and summarises the data for efficient consumption in this app. The app's data is refreshed through a separate R process which runs daily in a Docker container on AWS. The data refresh is published in its own git repository (to be published soon).


The app is deployed through RStudio's webservice Additionally, the app is published on RStudio Cloud which provides a complete development environment of the project.

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