Make Static HTML Documentation for a Package

Generate an attractive and useful website from a source package. 'pkgdown' converts your documentation, vignettes, 'README', and more to 'HTML' making it easy to share information about your package online.

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pkgdown is designed to make it quick and easy to build a website for your package. You can see pkgdown in action at this is the output of pkgdown applied to the latest version of pkgdown. Learn more in vignette("pkgdown") or ?build_site.


# Install release version from CRAN
# Install development version from GitHub


Run pkgdown from the package directory each time you release your package:


This will generate a docs/ directory. The home page will be generated from your package’s, and a function reference will be generated from the documentation in the man/ directory. If you are using GitHub, the easiest way to make this your package website is to check into git, then go settings for your repo and make sure that the GitHub pages source is set to “master branch /docs folder”.

The package also includes an RStudio add-in which you can bind to a keyboard shortcut. I recommend Cmd + Shift + W: it uses Cmd + Shift, like all other package development worksheets, it replaces a rarely used command (close all tabs), and the W is mnemonic for website.

To customise your site, create _pkgdown.yml and modify it as described in the documentation. Alternatively, you can also use pkgdown/_pkgdown.yml if you need other files to customise your site.

In the wild

As at last count, pkgdown is used by over 1800 packages.

Here are a few examples created by people contributors to pkgdown:

  • bayesplot [source]: plotting functions for posterior analysis, model checking, and MCMC diagnostics.

  • valr [source]: read and manipulate genome intervals and signals.

  • mkin [source]: calculation routines based on the FOCUS Kinetics Report

  • NMF [source]: a framework to perform non-negative matrix factorization (NMF).

Comparing the output with the source is a great way to learn new pkgdown techniques (particularly because ironically, the pkgdown documentation isn’t very good yet)

Code of conduct

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.


pkgdown 1.1.0

New features

  • build_reference() and build_site() get new document argument. When TRUE, the default, will automatically run devtools::document() to ensure that your documentation is up to date.

  • build_site() gains a new_process argument, which defaults to TRUE. This will run pkgdown in a separate process, and is recommended practice because it improves reproducibility (#647).

  • Improved display for icons: icons must be 30px and stored in top-level icons/ directory. They are embedded in a separate column of reference index table, instead of being inside a comment (!) (#607).

Front end

  • Added a keyboard shortcut for searching. Press shift + / (?) to move focus to the search bar (#642). The Algolia logo is correctly shown in the search results (#673)

  • Navbar active tab highlighting uses a superior approach (suggested by @jcheng5) which should mean that the active page is correctly highlighted in all scenarios (#660).

  • pkgdown.js is better isolated so it should still work even if you load html widgets that import a different version of jquery (#655).

Improvements to Rd translation

  • vignette() calls that don't link to existing vignettes silently fail to link instead of generating an uninformative error messages (#652). Automatic linking works for re-exported objects that are not functions (@gaborcsardi, #666).

  • Empty \section{}s are ignored (#656). Previously, empty sections caused error Error in rep(TRUE, length(x) - 1).

  • \Sexpr{} supports results=text, results=Rd and results=hide (#651).

  • \tabular{} no longer requires a terminal \cr (#664, #645).

Minor bug fixes and improvements

  • Add inst/pkgdown.yml as a possible site configuration file so that packages on CRAN can be built without needing the development version (#662).

  • Default navbar template now uses site title, not package name (the package name is the default title, so this will not affect most sites) (#654).

  • You can suppress indexing by search engines by setting noindex: true pkgdown.yml (#686)

        noindex: true
  • build_article() sets IN_PKGDOWN env var so in_pkgdown() works (#650).

  • build_home(): CITATION files with non-UTF-8 encodings (latin1) work correctly, instead of generating an error. For non-UTF-8 locales, ensure you have e.g. Encoding: latin1 in your DESCRIPTION; but best practice is to re-enode your CITATION file to UTF-8 (#689).

  • build_home(): Markdown files (e.g., stored in .github/ are copied and linked correctly (#682).

  • build_news(): Multi-page changelogs (generated from with news: one_page: false in _pkgdown.yml) are rendered correctly.

  • build_reference(): reference index shows infix functions (like %+%) as `%+%`, not `%+%`() on (#659).

pkgdown 1.0.0

  • Major refactoring of path handling. build_ functions no longer take path or depth arguments. Instead, set the destination directory at the top level of pkgdown.yml.

  • Similarly, build_news() no longer takes a one_page argument; this should now be specified in the _pkgdown.yml instead. See the documentation for an example.

Reference manual

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