We (rOpenSci) just held our 3rd annual rOpenSci unconference (https://unconf16.ropensci.org/) in San Francisco. There were a lot of ideas, and lots of awesome projects from awesome people came out of the 2 day event.

One weird idea I had comes from looking at the Node world, where there are lots of tiny packages, instead of the often larger packages we have in the R world. One reason for tiny in Node is that of course you want a library to be tiny if running in the browser for faster load times (esp. on mobile).

So the idea is, what if we could separate all the functions in a package, or any particular function of your choice, into new packages, with all the internal functions and dependencies. And automatically as well, not manually.

So what are the use cases? I can’t imagine this being used to create stable packages to disperse to the world on CRAN, but it could be really useful for development purposes, or for R users/analysts that want lighter weight dependencies (e.g., a package with just the one function needed from a larger package).

This approach of course has drawbacks. The new created package is now broken apart from the original - however, beause it’s automated, you can just re-create it.

Another pain point would surely be with packages that have C/C++ code in them.

The package: atomize.

The package was made possible by the awesome functionMap package by Gábor Csárdi, and the more well-known devtools.

Expect bugs, the package has no tests. Sorry :(




atomize a fxn into separate package

You can select one function, or many. Here, I’m using another package I maintain, rredlist, a pkg to interact with the IUCN Redlist API.

In this example, I want a new package called foobar with just the function rl_citation(). The function atomize::atomizer() takes the path for the package to extract from, then a path for the new package, then the function names.

atomizer(path_ref = "../rredlist", path_new = "../foobar", funcs = "rl_citation")

This creates a new package in the path_new directory


Now we need to install the new package, can do easily with devtools::install()



Then load the new package


call function

Now call the function in the new package

#> [1] "IUCN 2015. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4 <www.iucnredlist.org>"

it’s identical to the same function in the old package

identical(rredlist::rl_citation(), foobar::rl_citation())
#> [1] TRUE