Rtools - what, why, when?

I recently ran a workshop series on the basics of R and the Tidyverse.

About half of the participants had problems with installing with one or more of the packages we used in the course (most had problems with one or more of: Easystats, ggstatsplot, naniar). For most of the people who experienced these problems, it looked like the packages did install without error messages, but all had a warning that Rtools was not installed.

I am not sure that the missing installation of Rtools caused the problems, because many participants also had problems with the security settings.

I am not sure if I in the future should make sure that all participants have Rtools installed.

Can you help me understand what Rtools does, and when Rtools is needed?

In a nut shell, RTools contains the required compilers needed to compile R packages from source on Windows systems.

For the latest R version there are precompiled binaries available on CRAN a few days after the release of a new package version, but, if you are using and old R version or you need to update a package before the corresponding precompiled binary is available, then you need to have RTools installed in order to compile from the source code.

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Thank you.
This makes alot of sense.
Condition one can be avoided by having the newest version of R, but condition two can't.

I guess I'll have to make sure windows users have Rtools installed.

BTW, MacOS users also need additional tools for the same reasons.


And the same goes for Linux users although the exact name of the required system libraries depends on the specific distribution being used.

RStudio Cloud is specifically intended for this use case, it gives you the ability to create a common working environment with everything needed already installed. You might want to consider using it.

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