When you want to share a project with other collaborators, you may want to ensure everyone is working with the same environment – otherwise, code in the project may unexpectedly fail to run because of changes in behavior between different versions of the packages in use. You can use renv to help make this possible.

Collaborating with renv

If you’re planning to collaborate with others using renv, we recommend the following steps to get started:

  1. Select a way to share your project sources. We recommend using a version control system alongside a public repository; e.g. git with GitHub, but many other options are available.

  2. One user (perhaps yourself) should explicitly initialize renv in the project, via renv::init(). This will create the initial renv lockfile, and also write the renv auto-loaders to the project’s .Rprofile and renv/activate.R. These will ensure the right version of renv is downloaded and installed for your collaborators when they start in this project.

  3. Share your project sources, alongside the generated lockfile renv.lock. Be sure to also share the generated auto-loaders in .Rprofile and renv/activate.R.

  4. When a collaborator first launches in this project, renv should automatically bootstrap itself, thereby downloading and installing the appropriate version of renv into the project library. After this has completed, they can then use renv::restore() to restore the project library locally on their machine.

For more information on collaboration strategies, please visit environments.rstudio.com.

Updating the Lockfile

While working on a project, you or your collaborators may need to update or install new packages in your project. When this occurs, you’ll also want to ensure your collaborators are then using the same newly-installed packages. In general, the process looks like this:

  1. A user installs, or updates, one or more packages in their local project library;

  2. That user calls renv::snapshot() to update the renv.lock lockfile;

  3. That user then shares the updated version of renv.lock with their collaborators;

  4. Other collaborators then call renv::restore() to install the packages specified in the newly-updated lockfile.

A bit of care is required if collaborators wish to update the shared renv.lock lockfile concurrently – in particular, if multiple collaborators are installing new packages and updating their own local copy of the lockfile, then conflicts would need to be sorted out afterwards.

One way to guard against this it to use a version control system, and have all collaborators work off the same branch. This way, if someone needs to update renv.lock in the public repository, all collaborators will see that updated lockfile and will gain access to it next time they pull those changes. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to ensure any changes to renv.lock are communicated so that everyone knows and understands when and why packages have been installed or updated.