New version of package 'packagefinder' with improved ranking of search results

A new version (0.1.5) of my 'packagefinder' package is now available on CRAN. The main change is an imroved ranking mechanism for search results that delivers more relevant results. Apart from that, a new shortcut function fp() is available that saves typing work when calling findPackage().

The 'packagefinder' package is designed to search for packages on CRAN directly from the R console with ease and comfort.

Learn more about the 'packagefinder' package...
on CRAN: GitHub: YouTube: the web (tutorial): Follow me on Twitter:

Finding CRAN packages right from the R console (new packagefinder version)

A new version of my package packagefinder is available on CRAN. It has a lot of new features and comes with a YouTube tutorial.

What is packagefinder? How does it benefit me? Currently, there are more than 14,000 R package contributions on CRAN providing R with an unparalleled wealth of features. The downside of the large and increasing amount of packages is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find the right tools to tackle a specific problem. Unfortunately, CRAN does not provide any good search functionality.

packagefinder is designed to search for CRAN packages right from the R console. The philosophy behind this package is that R users like using the R console and need a tool to do their day-to-day-work on CRAN without leaving their normal workspace, the console. In fact, the idea is that with packagefinder you do not need to leave the R console to work with CRAN effectively.

packagefinder is developed to save you time and energy finding the right packages to work with, thereby…

New R package 'debugr' - use automatic debug messages to improve your code

debugr is a new package designed to support debugging in R. It mainly provides the dwatch() function which prints a debug output to the console or to a file. A debug output can consist of a static text message, the values of one or more objects (potentially transformed by applying some functions) or the value of one or multiple (more complex) R expressions.

Whether or not a debug message is displayed can be made dependent on the evaluation of a criterion phrased as an R expression. Generally, debug messages are only shown if the debug mode is activated. The debug mode is activated and deactivated with debugr_switchOn() and debugr_switchOff(), respectively, which change the logical value in the global options. Since debug messages are only displayed in debug mode, the dwatch() function calls can even remain in the original code as they remain silent and won't have any effect until the debug mode is switched on again.

Read more:

The package's vignette: https://cloud…

A thought experiment: How CRAN saved 3,620 (working) lives

Given the vast amount of R packages available today, it makes sense (at least to me, as a trained economist) to ask a simple yet difficult question: How much value has been created by all those packages?

As all R stuff on CRAN is open-source (which is a blessing), there is no measureable GDP contribution in terms of market value that we can use to provide a quick answer. But all of us R users know the pleasant feeling, if not to say the excitement, of finding a package that provides exactly the functionality we have been looking for so long. This saves us the time of developing the functionality ourselves. So, apparantly, the time saving is one way to estimate the beneficial effect of the package sharing on CRAN.
Here comes a simple (and not too serious) approach to estimating this effect. 
(Side note: I am well aware of the extremely high concentration of capable statisticians and data scientists in the R community, so be clement with my approach, I am, as you will see shortly, not aimi…

New package 'packagefinder' - Search for packages from the R console

There are over 12,700 R packages on CRAN. How to find the right one for you? The new package 'packagefinder' helps you search for packages on CRAN right from the R console.

With 'packagefinder' you can search for multiple keywords in the name, title and description of the CRAN package, either case-sensitive or insensitive and define your own weighting scheme for the search results, if you like. Once you have found a promising package, you can use the simple function go() to go to the package's CRAN webpage or view its PDF manual, directly from the R console without having to installing the package first. Of course, you can also install the package easily, if you want to try it out.

Check our 'packagefinder' on CRAN:

And leave your comments on GitHub ( or contact me via Twitter or e-mail. Your ideas are highly appreciated!

New R package flatxml: working with XML files as R dataframes

The world is flat

The new R package flatxml provides functions to easily deal with XML files. When parsing an XML document fxml_importXMLFlat produces a special dataframe that is 'flat' by its very nature but contains all necessary information about the hierarchical structure of the underlying XML document (for details on the dataframe see the reference for the fxml_importXMLFlat function). flatxml offers a set of functions to work with this dataframe.

Apart from representing the XML document in a dataframe structure, there is yet another way in which flatxml relates to dataframes: the fxml_toDataFrame function can be used to extract data from an XML document into a dataframe, e.g. to work on the data with statistical functions. Because in this case there is no need to represent the XML document structure as such (it's all about the data contained in the document), there is no representation of the hierarchical structure of the document any more, it's just a normal dat…

New version of package 'xplain' - Contribute your ideas!

As I am preparing for the next version of my package 'xplain' (see for more details) I invite everybody to share their ideas for improvements and new features.

I'm currently planning to release the new version in August.

Your ideas are highly appreciated! Leave your comments on GitHub ( or contact me via Twitter or e-mail. Thank you for your contribution!