How to trace a corrupt package

For context, this topic emerged out of this other thread. As co-conspirator, I’d like to say that I’m interested in the generalizable strategies other people take to diagnose package installation and dependency problems and in resources for learning/teaching people how to handle these problems with confidence.

To expand a little on what I said in the original discussion, I feel like long, incremental experience has given me an empirical skill set that boils down to:

  • knowing how to parse info out of R error messages and warnings
  • an intuition for where the likely points of failure are that I can’t articulate well

But I don’t really have a coherent theory to underpin this hard-won experience, I find it hard to teach to anybody else, and I strongly suspect I have a lot left to learn! I also don’t know of any beginner-friendly go-to resources on the topic.

I think dealing with this stuff in the R ecosystem is a lot easier than in some others I’ve dabbled in, but I still see plenty of people stumble on it, and with the rise of install-from-github it seems to be getting more complicated. So, my questions:

  • What’s your debugging/diagnostic stragegy for package installation and “dependency hell” issues? Do you even have a strategy, or do you just rip it all out and reinstall every time?
  • Are there good resources out there for helping less experienced useRs feel confident handling installation and dependency problems?