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Contributing to the omnideconv communitiy

We welcome contributions to omnideconv! For contributions of any kind, please adhere to our Code of Conduct.

Filing an issue

Bug reports and feature requests are indispensible for improving the quality of omnideconv tools. To make them as useful as possible:

Contributing code

If you want to propose code changes to omnideconv repositories (e.g. to add a feature or fix a bug), you’ll need to prepare a pull-request (PR) that will be reviewed by core-team members. We are very excited about code contributions, however, before adding a feature, consider opening an issue for discussion.

This section gives an overview of our coding standards and provides you all necessary information to get started quickly!

Getting set-up

We assume that you are already familiar with gith and with making pull requests on GitHub. If not, there are plenty of tutorials available online, e.g. the “first contributions” tutorial

Installing dev dependencies

In addition to the package you are developing and all its runtime dependencies, you may need additional packages to run tests and build vignettes. These dependencies are usually included in the Suggests: section of the DESCRIPTION file.

We recommend installing all dependencies through the r-lib/pak package manager, a faster and more reliable alternative to install_github():

# install the `r-lib/pak` package manager, if you haven't already

# install package including all dev dependencies, e.g. immunedeconv
pak::pkg_install("omnideconv/immunedeconv", dependencies = TRUE)

Continuous integration

Continuous integration are automated services that run on every pull request such as

We have continuous integration set-up for all repositories. What the different services are doing and how you can benefit from them is detailed in the following sections.


We use pre-commit to enforce consistent code-styles across projects. On every commit, pre-commit checks will either automatically fix issues with the code, or raise an error message. See pre-commit checks for a full list of checks included in omnideconv repositories per default. Individual project maintainers may decide to add or remove checks, though.

To enable pre-commit locally, install the pre-commit Python tool:

pip install pre-commit

Then, simply run

pre-commit install

to activate the checks.

Alternatively, you can rely on the service enabled on GitHub. If you didn’t run pre-commit before pushing changes to GitHub, it will automatically commit fixes to your pull request, or show an error message.

If added a commit on a branch you still have been working on locally, simply use

git pull --rebase

to integrate the changes into yours.


Before a pull request can get merged, the code must pass R CMD check.

You can test if your packages passes the checks locally by running


in an R console.

Alternatively, continuous integration will run the checks on every pull request.


We use testthat for automated testing. Automated tests are small pieces of code that run the package with small example data to ensure that everything works as expected. If you add new functionality to one of the packages, please add the corresponding tests.

To learn more about tests, please refer to the testing chapter from the R packages book, or take a look at one of our existing test suites, e.g. immunedeconv.

If you are working with RStudio, you can simply press Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + T to execute tests. It is also possible to execute tests from the R console:


Finally, our continuous integration will automatically run the tests on all pull requests.


For some of our packages (omnideconv, immunedeconv) we cannot distribute the package on the usual repositories (CRAN or Bioconductor), since several of our dependencies are not available from there. To provide an alternative way of installation in addition to install_github, we decided to provide bioconda packages for those repositories.

Conda is a platform-independent package manager that automatically resolves version conflicts and provides pre-compiled binaries of the packages. Therefore, conda tends to be faster and more reliable than a direct installation from GitHub.

Each conda package has a YAML “recipe”, which is hosted on bioconda-recipes (e.g. immunedeconv). All dependencies must be available either on bioconda or conda-forge. If a dependency is not available from there, you’ll need to add it. To this end, please follow the instructions from conda-forge for general-purpose packages, and bioconda for packages specific to the biological sciences.

The conda recipe in bioconda-recipes needs to be updated when a new release of an omnideconv package is created. For more details, see the making a release section.

For omnideconv packages that provide a bioconda package, there should be a copy of the meta.yml from bioconda-recipes in the .conda directory. This file is used by the continuous integration to check that the conda recipe can be built and used at any time. This file should be kept in sync with the file from bioconda-recipes (i.e. when you have to add a dependency to the local meta.yml to make the tests pass, you will also need to add that depependency to the version from bioconda-recipes on the next release).

It is also possible to test building the package locally. This might be useful for debugging:

cd .conda  # or whatever directory your `meta.yml` is in
conda build . --no-anaconda-upload


Documentation is essential for the users to correctly use our packages, so please take a lot of care writing it.

We use roxygen2 to build documentation from code comments. It automatically generates manual files (.Rd) and the NAMESPACE file that declares which external functions are used by the package. To learn more about roxygen2, please refer to their getting started vignette.

To build the documentation, run


in an R console. If you are using Rstudio, you can simply press Crtl/Cmd + Shift + D.

Alternatively, you can rely on our continuous integration to build the documentation of every push to a pull request. If the documentation was out of date, it will automatically add a commit with the updated documentation. If the CI added a commit to a branch you still have been working on locally, simply use

git pull --rebase

to integrate the changes into yours.

Writing documentation

To write good docstrings, it’s good to keep the following points in mind

To learn more about how to write good documentation for R packages, we recommend the “Documentation” chapters of the R packages book.

pkgdown website

We use pkgdown to automatically create a documentation website for each package. The websites are served by GitHub pages from the gh-pages branch of each repository.

The website is built automatically by continuous integration of every pull request. If a pull request gets merged into the main branch, the website gets updated automatically. For each pull request a “preview link” is automatically generated and added as a comment. From this link, you can inspect how the website will look like given the changes from your pull request.

Alternatively, you can build and preview the website locally by running in an R console


Making a release

The package maintainers are in charge of creating releases whenever bugfixes or features were merged into the main branch.

Please adhere to semantic versioning for choosing a version number, in brief:

Given a version number MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH, increment the:

Additional labels for pre-release and build metadata are available as extensions to the MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH format.

Release checklist

Writing release notes

The release notes or “changelog” should provide an overview of the changes introduced since the last release. It is good practice to separate it in sections that correspond to the categories of changes used for semantic versioning, i.e.

Each change should link to the corresponding issue or pull-request. Please make sure to give appropriate credits to contributors.

Repository set-up

This section gives an overview which services integrate with omnideconv repositories and how they were set-up. It is meant primarily as a reference for (future) mainainers of omnideconv repositories.

omnideconv bot

We have an omnideconv-bot github account that is used for single-sign on (SSO) for external services and to generate github tokens for automated commits. Unlike the GITHUB_TOKEN used by github actions per default, access tokens tied to a github account can be used to trigger github actions, which is required for the e.g. the roxygenize action that makes commits to a pull request. Omnideconv repos have access to the bot token as secrets.BOT_GH_TOKEN. The password of the omnideconv-bot account is guarded by the steering committee.

Documentation using pkgdown hosted on GitHub Pages

The documentation website is built on every pull request by the pkgdown.yml github action. If the check passes, it deploys the website to a temporary website hosted by netlify that allows to inspect how the website will look like after merging the PR.

If the PR gets merged into the main branch, the website will be updated (i.e. the changes are pushed to the gh-pages) branch of the repository.

Setting up netlify for a new repository:

An access token to authorize against netlify is available to all repositories as NETLIFY_AUTH_TOKEN.

The action uses actions-netlify to deploy to the temporary site, see e.g. immunedeconv

Coverage tests with CodeCov

Coverage tells what fraction of the code is “covered” by unit tests, thereby encouraging contributors to write tests. To enable coverage checks, head over to codecov and sign in with your GitHub account. You’ll find more information in “getting started” section of the codecov docs.

In brief, you need to

  1. Generate a Codecov Token by clicking setup repo in the codecov dashboard.
  2. Go to the Settings of your repository on GitHub.
  3. Go to Security > Secrets > Actions
  4. Create new repository secret with name CODECOV_TOKEN and paste the token generated by codecov

Pre-commit checks

Pre-commit checks are fast programs that check code for errors, inconsistencies and code styles, before the code is committed. The .pre-commit-config.yaml at the root of each repository is the standardized place to describe which checks to run, and how.

Here’s an overview of pre-commit checks included in omnideconv repositories by default. Individual maintainers may decide to add or remove checks as they prefer.

Pre-commit CI

We recommend setting up to enforce consistency checks on every commit and pull-request. was installed into the omnideconv organization. To activate it for a certain repository, head to the organization settings on GitHub. Choose Integrations > GitHubApps > pre-commit ci > Configure. There, you can choose in the section Repository access for which repos to activate the service.