Dependency resolution for R package development

Jim Hester, Hadley Wickham, Gábor Csárdi


Package remotes

Remotes, just like devtools, supports package dependency installation for packages not yet in a standard package repository such as CRAN or Bioconductor.

You can mark any regular dependency defined in the Depends, Imports, Suggests or Enhances fields as being installed from a remote location by adding the remote location to Remotes in your DESCRIPTION file. This will cause remotes to download and install them from the specified location, instead of CRAN.

The remote dependencies specified in Remotes should be described in the following form.

Remotes: [type::]<Repository>, [type2::]<Repository2>

The type is an optional parameter. If the type is missing the default is to install from GitHub. Additional remote dependencies should be separated by commas, just like normal dependencies elsewhere in the DESCRIPTION file.


Because GitHub is the most commonly used unofficial package distribution in R, it’s the default:

Remotes: r-lib/testthat

You can also specify a specific hash, tag, or pull request (using the same syntax as install_github() if you want a particular commit. Otherwise the latest commit on the default branch is used.

Remotes: r-lib/httr@v0.4,

The special @*release syntax will install the latest release:

Remotes: r-lib/testthat@*release

A type of ‘github’ can be specified, but is not required

Remotes: github::tidyverse/ggplot2

Other sources

All of the currently supported install sources are available, see the ‘See Also’ section in ?install_github for a complete list.

# GitLab
Remotes: gitlab::jimhester/covr

# Git

# Bitbucket
Remotes: bitbucket::sulab/mygene.r@default, djnavarro/lsr

# Bioconductor
Remotes: bioc::3.3/SummarizedExperiment#117513, bioc::release/Biobase

Remotes: svn::

Remotes: url::

# Local
Remotes: local::/pkgs/testthat

CRAN submission

When you submit your package to CRAN, all of its dependencies must also be available on CRAN. For this reason, devtools::release() will warn you if you try to release a package with a Remotes field.