Using the ‘Devel’ Version of Bioconductor

Which version of R?

Package authors should develop against the version of R that will be available to users when the Bioconductor devel branch becomes the Bioconductor release branch.

R has a ‘.y’ release in x.y.z every year (typically mid-April), but Bioconductor has a .y release (where current devel becomes release) every 6 months (mid-April and mid-October).

This means that, from mid-October through mid-April, Bioconductor developers should be developing against R-devel. From mid-April to mid-October, developers should use R-release (actually, the R snapshot from the R-x-y-branch) for Bioconductor development.

Using ‘bioc-devel’ during mid-April to mid-October

In order to use the ‘bioc-devel’ version of Bioconductor during the mid-April to mid-October release cycle, use the release version of R and invoke the function useDevel() (from the BiocInstaller) package:

biocValid()              # checks for out of date packages
biocLite()               # (optional) updates out of date packages

After doing this, all packages will be installed from the ‘bioc-devel’ repository.

One way to work with ‘bioc-release’ and ‘bioc-devel’ versions of Bioconductor, is to have two separate installations of the release version of R, one to be used with ‘bioc-release’ and the other to be used with ‘bioc-devel’. Run useDevel() as described above in the ‘bioc-devel’ installation.

Another way of working with release and devel versions of Bioconductor is with a single R installation, using the R_LIBS_USER environment variable to create separate ‘bioc-release’ and ‘bioc-devel’ libraries. Before installing any packages, create two separate directories. Suggested directory names are Linux:

~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-release
~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-devel

where <R version> is replaced by the x.y release version of R. On macOS:

~/Library/R/<R version>-bioc-release/library
~/Library/R/<R Version>-bioc-devel/library

and Windows:

C:\Users\<User>\Documents\R\win-library\<R version>-bioc-release
C:\Users\<User>\Documents\R\win-library\<R version>-bioc-devel

(change <User> to your user name)

Invoke ‘R for bioc-devel’ or ‘R for bioc-release’ from the command line on Linux:

R_LIBS_USER=~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-release R
R_LIBS_USER=~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-devel R


R_LIBS_USER=~~/Library/R/<R version>-bioc-release/library R
R_LIBS_USER=~~/Library/R/<R version>-bioc-devel/library R

and Windows (assuming that R.exe is in PATH):

cmd /C "set R_LIBS_USER=C:\Users\<User>\Documents\R\win-library\<R version>-bioc-release &&  R"
cmd /C "set R_LIBS_USER=C:\Users\<User>\Documents\R\win-library\<R version>-bioc-devel &&  R"

When correctly configured, R’s .libPaths() function will return the ‘bioc-release’ or bioc-devel’ directory as its first entry. Packages are installed to that directory, and that is the first place that library() looks for them. biocLite() and install.packages() respect this setting; update.packages() attempts to update packages in the directory where the current package is installed.

Simplify invokation using an alias (Linux, macOS) or shortcut (Windows). Add the following to your ~/.bash_profile on Linux:

alias Rdevel='R_LIBS_USER=~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-devel R'
alias Rrelease='R_LIBS_USER=~/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/<R version>-bioc-release R'

or macOS

alias Rdevel='R_LIBS_USER=~/Library/R/<R version>-bioc-devel/library R'
alias Rrelease='R_LIBS_USER=~/Library/R/<R version>-bioc-release/library R'

Invoke R from the command line as Rdevel or Rrelease.

On Windows, create two shortcuts, one for ‘bioc-release’ and one for ‘bioc-devel’. For ‘bioc-devel’ (do similar steps for release) go to My Computer and navigate to a directory that is in your PATH. Then right-click and choose New->Shortcut. In the “type the location of the item” box, put:

cmd /C "set R_LIBS_USER=C:\Users\<User>\Documents\R\win-library\<R version>-bioc-devel &&  R"

(this assumes that R.exe is in your PATH). Click “Next”, and in the “Type a name for this shortcut” box, type Rdevel. Invoke these from the command line as Rdevel.lnk.

Using ‘bioc-devel’ during mid-October to mid-April

In order to use the ‘bioc-devel’ version of Bioconductor during the mid-October to mid-April release cycle, you must install the devel version of R.

Then, make sure that your version of BiocInstaller is current and your packages up-to-date. Do this by removing all versions of BiocInstaller

remove.packages("BiocInstaller")  # repeat until R says there is no
                                  # package 'BiocInstaller' to remove
source("")  # install correct version