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rtcl: R Tools for the Command Line

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This package ships some command line utilities which simplify working with R packages from the command line. Many commands rtcl provides are just wrappers around , e.g. remotes and testthat. They ensure a valid exit code which is required to use these commands for shell scripting. You find additional packages via R infrastructure. Furthermore, rtcl allows you to maintain a collection of you favorite packages in a plain text file which you can add to your dotfiles and share across systems. This file may also contain git sources to keep you up to date with packages not yet released on CRAN.

Available Commands

  • rbuild to bundle a local package.
  • rcheck to check a local package.
  • rclean to remove .[o|so] files from a local package.
  • rcov to test the coverage of a local package.
  • rdoc to document a local package using roxygen.
  • rhub to upload a local package to rhub service.
  • rinstall to install a remote package, e.g. a package hosted on CRAN or GitHub.
  • rknit to knit a document (.Rnw, .Rmd, ...) via rknit.
  • rmake to make a local package (document and install).
  • rpkgdown to build static HTML documentation with pkgdown.
  • rremove to remove (uninstall) R packages.
  • rshine to run a shiny app.
  • rspell to check spelling in generated .Rd files.
  • rtest to test a local package.
  • rupdate to update all CRAN packages on your system, install missing CRAN packages listed in your collection ~/.rtcl/packages and update all packages with a git source.
  • rusage to check variable usage.
  • rwinbuild to upload a local package to the winbuilder service.

Call the respective command with --help to list available command line arguments. All commands are also available as regular R functions, using the same names.


First, you need to install rtcl itself. Using a personal library (e.g., echo 'R_LIBS_USER=~/.R/library' >> ~/.Renviron) is strongly advised.


Alternatively, if you start from scratch and do not have remotes installed, run the following command in your shell:

Rscript -e 'install.packages("remotes", repos = "")'
Rscript -e 'remotes::install_github("rdatsci/rtcl")'

The rtcl command line scripts are now installed in the subdirectory rtcl/bin of your R library (call .libPaths() in R if unsure about its location). You need to add this directory to your PATH variable, see the section below that applies to you.

On Linux

Add this directory to your PATH in your .bashrc, .zshrc or

# bash

# zsh
path=(~/.R/library/rtcl/bin $path)

# fish
if test -d ~/.R/library/rtcl
    set -gx PATH $HOME/.R/library/rtcl/bin $PATH

On Windows

Add this directory to your PATH variable in the system environment via the control panel. As an alternative use the admin console command:

SETX /M PATH "%PATH%;path-to-rtcl-repository/win"

(Option /M changes the PATH in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE instead of HKEY_CURRENT_USER). If it does not work for you, try it without the /M option. In any case you need to open a new windows prompt or terminal windows in order to reload the PATH variable.

Continue for both Systems

After sourcing this file (or after a re-login) you should be all set to use rtcl.

To keep rtcl updated, you can let it maintain itself via rupdate by adding it to your collection file ~/.config/rtcl/packages. To do this, first initialize an empty collection with

rtcl --init

and then edit the file with your favorite text editor. To add more packages to your collection, see ?rupdate for a format description of this file. You can also edit the package collection file by calling:

rtcl --packages

rwinbuild and rhub: maintainer

If you want to check packages on rhub or with the winbuilder that are not yours, you have to change the maintainer temporarily. rtcl does that for you if you configure your maintainer details in ~/.config/rtcl/config. You can edit this file with any text editor or by calling:

rtcl --config


R tools for the command line



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