For more details on how to use task views and how to contribute to them, see the repository of the CRAN Task Views Initiative.
The file format for CRAN task views leverages the R/Markdown format (see Xie, Allaire, Grolemund 2019) so that standard Markdown can be used for formatting and structuring the text and a handful of special R functions are provided to link to CRAN packages, other task views, GitHub projects, etc.
ctvversions prior to 0.9-0 (released in December 2021), task views used an XML-based format (introduced in Zeileis 2005, R News, 5(1), 39-40 [PDF]). See below for converting task views from the old XML-based format to the new R/Markdown format.
The format is mostly self-explanatory and is illustrated below using
an excerpt from the
Econometrics task view which is hosted
on CRAN at https://CRAN.R-project.org/view=Econometrics and
maintained on GitHub at https://github.com/cran-task-views/Econometrics/.
--- name: Econometrics topic: Econometrics maintainer: Achim Zeileis, Grant McDermott email: Achim.Zeileis@R-project.org version: 2021-12-02 --- Base R ships with a lot of functionality useful for computational econometrics, in particular in the stats package. This functionality is complemented by many packages on CRAN, a brief overview is given below. There is also a considerable overlap between the tools for econometrics in this view and those in the task views on `r view("Finance")`, `r view("SocialSciences")`, and `r view("TimeSeries")`. Further information can be formatted with standard Markdown syntax, e.g., for _emphasizing text_ or showing something really important in **bold face**. R/Markdown syntax with special functions can be used to link to a standard package like `r pkg("ivreg")` or an important "core" package like `r pkg("AER", priority = "core")`. ### Links - [Journal of Statistical Software: Econometrics in R](https://www.jstatsoft.org/v27/) - [The Title of a Relevant Homepage](http://path/to/homepage/)
The document structure consists of three main blocks: (1) Some
metainformation is given in the YAML header at the beginning (separated
by lines with
---), followed by (2) the information in the
main text, and (3) a concluding special section called
The metainformation needs to provide the following elements:
name gives the name of the task view in
CamelCase. This is used as the identifier for installing the
view and as the name for the Markdown file, e.g.,
Econometrics.md, and the auto-generated HTML file, e.g.,
Econometrics.html. Hence, it should be not too long
(typically 1-3 words) and contain no special characters like spaces,
topic is a plain text specification of the topic of
the task view. In the example above it is identical to the
name but is often a somewhat longer and more detailed title
(in title case).
maintainer gives the name(s) of the maintainer(s) in
a comma-separated list. The principal contact should be listed first and
ideally there are a couple of further co-maintainers that help keeping
the task view up to date.
version is specified by a date in ISO 8601 format
Additionally, there are optional elements
which can be used to link to the source repository (e.g., on GitHub) and
url for the URL of the published task view, respectively.
The latter is inserted automatically for the official task views on
The information in the main text should be a short description of the
packages, explaining which packages are useful for which tasks. Standard Markdown
format can be used to structure the document with sections, itemized
and enumerated lists, bold face, italics, etc. Additionally, short R
code chunks with special functions are used for linking to resources in
the same repository:
pkg() for normal packages,
pkg(..., priority = "core") for important “core” packages,
view() for related task views. A convenience function
doi() creates links for DOIs (digital object identifiers).
The distinction between “normal” and “core” packages is only important
for the installation of CRAN task views because the user can specify
whether all packages (default) or only the most important core packages
should be installed (with all their dependencies).
Moreover, code projects in other repositories can be linked by using the functions:
bioc()for Bioconductor packages at https://www.Bioconductor.org/.
github()for GitHub projects at https://github.com/.
rforge()for R-Forge projects at https://R-Forge.R-project.org/.
gcode()for projects in the Google Code archive at https://Code.Google.com/archive/.
ohat()for Omegahat packages at http://www.Omegahat.net/.
Note however that CRAN task views are intended mainly for packages on CRAN (as the name conveys). Thus, links to other repositories should be used for important packages/projects but not list all potentially relevant repositories. Also, it is not necessary to list the GitHub projects for all listed CRAN packages as these are typically provided on the package’s CRAN web page.
All CRAN packages included with the
pkg() function will
be listed in a dedicated list below the information text when rendering
the HTML version of the task view. Also, the task views as well as
packages/projects in other repositories will be included automatically
in the list of links at the end of the HTML version.
Finally, additional links - e.g., to books, papers, blogs, interest
groups, mailing lists, etc. - can be included in the
section at the end of the file in a standard itemized list. As explained
above this list of links will be complemented automatically with links
generated from the functions
To check whether a task view file has been formatted properly it can be read into R and printed. This should display the metainformation and the list of packages. Subsequently, it can be rendered to an HTML page and displayed in a browser for checking whether the information text is processed correctly.
For illustration, the code below employs the
Econometrics.md file shipped within the
package. Instead a local
MyNewView.md with resulting
MyNewView.html could be used as well.
library("ctv") x <- read.ctv(system.file("ctv", "Econometrics.md", package = "ctv")) print(x) ctv2html(x) browseURL("Econometrics.html")
Note that the code above is intended for authors of CRAN task views.
For end-users the functions
relevant. See https://github.com/cran-task-views/ctv/ for more
ctv package provides an (unexported) R function to
facilitate the transition from the legacy XML format for the task view
files to the new R/Markdown format described above. Simply using
will create a
MyView.md file from the
file. This should do most necessary transformations automatically.
However, it is recommended to thoroughly check the resulting file and
improve it as appropriate. To check the resulting HTML output use
Note that one important difference between the XML and R/Markdown format is that the “package list” does not need to be listed separately anymore, it is auto-generated from the “info” text. Similarly, the “links” just need to provide those links that are not auto-generated from the “info” text.