RcppArmadillo Test Notes – A Step-by-Step Tutorial to Create Your Own R Package Based on RcppArmadillo

Test environment:
R version 3.2.2
Rtools 33
Windows 7 64-bit

1. Install the packages “Rcpp”, “RcppArmadillo” and “inline” for R.

2. Download and install Rtools at https://cran.r-project.org/bin/windows/Rtools/, which is needed for building packages for R under Microsoft Windows. When installing, check the option “Edit the System PATH”.

3. Simple test code:

#See https://github.com/petewerner/misc/wiki/RcppArmadillo-cheatsheet for more examples.

rcpp_inc <- '
using namespace Rcpp;
using namespace arma;

m1 <- matrix(1:16, nr=4)
m2 <- matrix(17:32, nr=4)
v1 <- 1:10
v2 <- 11:20

src <- '
mat m1 = as<mat>(m1in);
mat m2 = as<mat>(m2in);
mat out = join_cols(m1, m2);

fn <- cxxfunction(signature(m1in="numeric", m2in="numeric"), src, plugin='RcppArmadillo', rcpp_inc)
res <- fn(m1, m2)
test <- rbind(m1, m2)
all.equal(test, res)

To write an R package based on RcppArmadillo:

4. Use the following R code:


You will get a folder “C:\Users\hp\Documents\testRcppArPackage” (here “testRcppArPackage” is your package name, you can change it to something more meaningful) in your R working directory, which contains all the basic files you need to build an R package.

5. Install the example package:
In windows CMD, “cd” to your R working directory, which contains the folder “testRcppArPackage”, and run the following commands

"D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd" check testRcppArPackage
"D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd" INSTALL testRcppArPackage

where “D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd” is the path of your R installation.
If you get the error that “Error: unexpected symbol in ’’‘~~simple examples’’”, open the file “C:\Users\hp\Documents\testRcppArPackage\man\testRcppArPackage-package.Rd” with your text editor, find the block
~~ simple examples of the most important functions ~~
and delete the content line inside the block and save, so it becomes
}”. Later on you may add example code in that block.
See http://howtomakeanrpackage.pbworks.com/f/How_To_Make_An_R_Package-v1.14-01-11-10.pdf Page 32 for more information.

6. Add your own functions in your package:
Just add your new functions in the file “C:\Users\hp\Documents\testRcppArPackage\src\rcpparma_hello_world.cpp”.
After that, you need to re-generate the “RcppExports.cpp” and “RcppExports.R” files in order to expose your own functions to R (so that you can call your defined functions in R after you load your package). To do this, use the following R code:


See https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/Rcpp/vignettes/Rcpp-package.pdf for details.

7. Finally, re-build and re-install your package using the same commands in step 5. If you encounter any error during the building process, you can check the file “C:\Users\hp\Documents\testRcppArPackage.Rcheck\00install.out” to find the details of the errors. You can test your package by loading it using


Then you can call your function in R by the same function name defined in the C/C++ source code.

8. In addition, use the command

"D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd" build testRcppArPackage

to create a packed package file “testRcppArPackage_1.0.tar.gz” for distributing. You can install your package from this “.tar.gz” file locally using the following R command:

install.packages("testRcppArPackage_1.0.tar.gz", repos = NULL)

However, the above package contains source code only and requires users have compilers (Rtools) to install. To build a binary package that can install directly, use the command

"D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd" --build testRcppArPackage_1.0.tar.gz

And to build the binary package for both (Windows) 32-bit and 62-bit,

"D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\bin\x64\Rcmd" --build --compile-both testRcppArPackage_1.0.tar.gz

You’ll get a new binary package file “testRcppArPackage_1.0.zip”, which can be installed directly (for Windows) without compiling. To install,

install.packages("testRcppArPackage_1.0.zip", repos = NULL)

Seamless R and C++ Integration with Rcpp (Use R!)

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5 Responses to RcppArmadillo Test Notes – A Step-by-Step Tutorial to Create Your Own R Package Based on RcppArmadillo

  1. Hi,

    I am trying to create a package with RcppArmadillo using RcppArmadillo.package.skeleton(name=”testRcppArPackage”)

    but I met an error when I run the “R CMD check testRcppArPackage” in windows CMD

    RcppExports.cpp:4:27: fatal error: RcppArmadillo.h: No such file or directory

    • Bruce Zhou says:

      It’s a common compilation problem but there could be various causes. For example, have you installed Rtools [https://cran.r-project.org/bin/windows/Rtools/] on Windows? You may try Step 3. (3. Simple test code:) first, see if you can run these code in R console without a problem.

  2. Thank you for your reply. I am becoming crazy with this error.

    I installed everything following the blog :

    Here, I attached the output of 00install.out
    I used the simplest code to start given by the Rcpp.package.skeleton(“foobar”)
    but it seems that I have not the link with Rcpp.h

    I wrote:
    system.file(“lib”, “Rcpp.h”, package=”Rcpp”)
    and the output was blank

    * installing *source* package ‘foobar’ …
    ** libs

    *** arch – i386
    c:/Rtools/mingw_32/bin/g++ -I”C:/PROGRA~1/R/R-33~1.0/include” -DNDEBUG -I”\\icnas4.cc.ic.ac.uk/scacciat/R/win-library/3.3/Rcpp/include” -I”d:/Compiler/gcc-4.9.3/local330/include” -O2 -Wall -mtune=core2 -c RcppExports.cpp -o RcppExports.o
    RcppExports.cpp:4:18: fatal error: Rcpp.h: No such file or directory
    compilation terminated.
    make: *** [RcppExports.o] Error 1
    Warning: running command ‘make -f “C:/PROGRA~1/R/R-33~1.0/etc/i386/Makeconf” -f “C:/PROGRA~1/R/R-33~1.0/share/make/winshlib.mk” SHLIB_LDFLAGS=’$(SHLIB_CXXLDFLAGS)’ SHLIB_LD=’$(SHLIB_CXXLD)’ SHLIB=”foobar.dll” OBJECTS=”RcppExports.o rcpp_hello_world.o”‘ had status 2
    ERROR: compilation failed for package ‘foobar’
    * removing ‘C:/Users/scacciat/Desktop/foobar.Rcheck/foobar’

    • Bruce Zhou says:

      I think the r-bloggers post is somehow outdated. system.file(“lib”, “Rcpp.h”, package=”Rcpp”) also gives me a blank output so I guess it doesn’t matter. The “Rcpp.h” file in my installation is located at “D:\Program Files\R\R-3.2.2\library\Rcpp\include\Rcpp.h”, I think yours should be “\\icnas4.cc.ic.ac.uk/scacciat/R/win-library/3.3/Rcpp/include/Rcpp.h”, and please check that path, is that a local path on your computer?

  3. Thank you sooooooooooooo much.
    The problem was the access to the Rcpp library. I usually installed the R library in a server but Rcmd was not able to link the Rcpp.h file.

    So I re-installed R and Rstudio in other address and now everything works.

    Thank you again

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