Create Disposable R Packages for Testing

Create disposable R packages for testing. You can create, install and load multiple R packages with a single function call, and then unload, uninstall and destroy them with another function call. This is handy when testing how some R code or an R package behaves with respect to other packages.

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The disposable packages are installed in R's temporary directory, so they are cleaned up at the end of the R session.

disposables cleans up after itself, if an error happens during the installation or loading of the disposable packages. If make_packages() fails because of an error, it leaves to temporary garbage behind. In particular,

  • it cleans up the library path and restores .libPaths(),
  • removes the temporary source package directories,
  • removes the installes packages from lib_dir, and
  • unloads the packages that it loaded before the error.


You can install this R package from Github:



make_packages() creates, installs and loads R packages, it takes named expressions, the names will be used as package names.

#> Loading required package: methods
pkgs <- make_packages(
  foo1 = { f <- function() print("hello!") ; d <- 1:10 },
  foo2 = { f <- function() print("hello again!") ; d <- 11:20 }

The foo1 and foo2 packages are now loaded.

"package:foo1" %in% search()
#> [1] TRUE
"package:foo2" %in% search()
#> [1] TRUE

You can dispose them with dispose_packages(). This unloads the packages and deletes them from the library directory.

"package:foo1" %in% search()
#> [1] FALSE
"package:foo2" %in% search()
#> [1] FALSE
#> [1] FALSE

Here is a real example that tests cross-package inheritence of R6 classes.

test_that("inheritance works across packages", {
  pkgs <- make_packages(
    imports = "R6",
    ## Code to put in package 'R6testA'
    R6testA = {
      AC <- R6Class(
        public = list(
          x = 1
    ## Code to put in package 'R6testB'
    R6testB = {
      BC <- R6Class(
        inherit = R6testA::AC,
        public = list(
          y = 2
  ## In case of an error below
  on.exit(try(dispose_packages(pkgs), silent = TRUE), add = TRUE)
  ## Now ready for the tests
  B <- BC$new()
  expect_equal(B$x, 1)
  expect_equal(B$y, 2)


MIT @ Gábor Csárdi



  • The imports argument to make_packages() can be a list, with one value for each package.

  • The packages are installed using the --no-test-load argument now. The reason for this, is that install.packages runs in a new R session, with potentially different library directories, and some required might not be available when the load test is performed.


  • make_packages() now has a quiet argument, set to FALSE to see the installation of disposable packages. This is mainly useful for debugging.


  • Fix spurious R CMD check warnings and notes.


First version on CRAN.

Reference manual

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1.0.3 by Gábor Csárdi, 5 years ago

Report a bug at

Browse source code at

Authors: Gábor Csárdi

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

MIT + file LICENSE license

Imports utils

Depends on methods

Suggests covr, testthat

Suggested by pkgconfig.

See at CRAN