Chapter 11 HTML Documentation for R Packages

R has a built-in HTML help system that can be accessed via help.start(). From this system, you can see the HTML help pages of functions and objects in all packages, as well as other information about packages such as the DESCRIPTION file and package vignettes. However, this system is usually dynamically launched (via a local web server), and it is not straightforward to turn it into a static website that can be viewed without starting R.

The pkgdown package (Wickham, Hesselberth, and Salmon 2022) makes it easy to build a documentation website for an R package, which can help you organize different pieces of the package documentation (e.g., README, help pages, vignettes, and news) with a more visually pleasant style. The navigation can also be easier for users than R’s built-in help system. This website can be published to any web server (e.g., GitHub Pages or Netlify). An example is pkgdown’s own website: (see Figure 11.1).

A screenshot of the pkgdown website.

FIGURE 11.1: A screenshot of the pkgdown website.


Wickham, Hadley, Jay Hesselberth, and Maëlle Salmon. 2022. Pkgdown: Make Static HTML Documentation for a Package.