4  {BiocBook}-based books vs. {rebook}-based books

{rebook} is another book rendering package currently used by Bioconductor to build book packages such as OSCA.* and SingleRBook.

4.1 Differences with {rebook}-based books

OSCA books provided by Bioconductor are rendered upon building by the Bioconductor Build System (BBS). They rely on {rebook} to orchestrate the rendering. Briefly, OSCA books have their book pages in /inst/book/, while the vignettes/ folder contains (1) a Makefile and (2) a dummy stub.Rmd vignette (required to trigger vignette rendering and thus make).

When the BBS triggers OSCA.intro package building, upon vignette rendering, the Makefile triggers the following commands:

work.dir <- rebook::bookCache('OSCA.intro')
handle <- rebook::preCompileBook('../inst/book', work.dir=work.dir, desc='../DESCRIPTION')
old.dir <- setwd(work.dir)
rebook::postCompileBook(work.dir=work.dir, final.dir='../inst/doc/book', handle=handle)

The resulting book, pre-compiled by {rebook} and assembled by {bookdown}, is eventually served by Bioconductor from the /inst/doc/book/ folder.

{BiocBook}-based packages follow a strategy similar to that of OSCA books: they provide a Makefile in the vignettes/ folder to trigger book rendering when building the package. However, the executed command does not rely on {rebook} and {bookdown}, but on a render command from the quarto software.

quarto render ../inst/
mv ../inst/docs ../inst/doc/book

The resulting book, fully compiled by native quarto, is also located in /inst/doc/book/ once the package is built (and in doc/book in the library directory once installed).

This implies that quarto (>= 1.3) has to be installed in the system building the package!

4.2 BiocBook features missing from rebook

  • A BiocBook can be readily initiated using BiocBook::init();
  • It relies on modern .qmd files supported by Quarto;
  • It can work as a standalone Github-hosted package, without necessarily having to be submitted to/built by Bioconductor. The book should be rendered exactly the same way through Github or by the BBS;
  • It supports versioning of the online book served by gh-pages through the author Github account;
  • It distributes versioned Dockerfiles through the author Github account;
  • BiocBook-based packages can actually provide fully-fledged functions in R/, manual pages and vignettes. They can be installed exactly the same way than other software packages.

4.3 rebook features missing from BiocBook

  • Smart reuse of objects generated in one book in another book;

This can still be achieved within a book by saving a data object as an .rds file and loading it in a subsequent chapter.

isthisworking <- readRDS('isthisworking.rds')
##  [1] "yes"
  • Native support of cross-references across books.
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