slendr is available on the CRAN R package repository. As
such, you can install it simply by executing
install.packages("slendr") in your R console.
If you want (or need) to get its development version, you can install
it directly from GitHub by executing
devtools::install_github("bodkan/slendr") via the R package
devtools (you can gen devtools by running
install.packages("devtools")). In fact, if you decide to
try slendr, please make sure to update it regularly and keep an
eye on the changelog on a regular
basis! This is where you can find information about latest bugfixes and
potential breaking changes.
Once you install slendr, calling
library(slendr) will check that all software dependencies
are available. If they are not, the R package will provide a
brief helpful guide on how to resolve potential issues. The rest of this
vignette talks about the necessary software dependencies in a bit more
Please note that slendr has been extensively tested only on macOS and Linux at the moment. However, there is an experimental support for runnig both SLiM and msprime simulations on Windows and for analyzing tree-sequence outputs using its tskit interface on this platform as well. Feedback on issues with using slendr on Windows is highly appreciated.
slendr relies on three main software dependencies:
geospatial data analysis R package sf (for encoding spatial slendr models and analysing spatial tree-sequence data),
forward population genetic simulator SLiM (for forward simulations),
Python modules tskit, msprime, and pyslim (for coalescent simulations and tree-sequence analysis), and also pandas used internally by the simulation back ends.
All three are widely used in their respective fields and, as such, are easily obtainable on all major operating systems (see below for more information on how to troubleshoot potential problems).
Note that depending on your use case, not all three sets of dependencies will be necessarily needed. If you’re not going to be running forward spatial simulations, you don’t need SLiM or geospatial R packages sf, stars, and rnaturalearth. This applies also to the animation of spatial models using the gganimate R package. This is why slendr does not install those as dependencies. If you need this functionality, you will have to install the respective R packages manually.
In this vignette, I will briefly explain how to get all slendr’s software dependencies installed. That said, note that under normal circumstances (with the exception of SLiM), no manual installation of individual dependencies is required.
The R package sf is at the heart of geospatial data analysis
in R. It is available on CRAN and can be installed for all major
platforms by executing
install.packages("sf") in your R
session. The same applies for stars and
When you first load slendr via
if you’re missing any of the three geospatial R packages, you will be
notified and instructed how you can easily obtain them from CRAN using a
single call to
That said, sf itself depends on a number of geospatial libraries and depending on the exact setup of your Linux or macOS machine, some of those libraries could be missing. Luckily, all of them are very easy to install via Homebrew (on macOS) or via the appropriate package manager of your Linux distribution (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.). Detailed instructions on how to do this for your operating system can be found here.
If you’re having problems with the installation of any of these three packages, look for help here.
One user who recently installed slendr on a fresh macOS
system reported that they needed to install
order to be able to install the package devtools for the
devtools::install_github("bodkan/slendr") step described on
top of this page.
Additionally, they had to install a couple of C/C++ libraries as well (all dependencies of the sf package). In the end, they were able to successfully install slendr after running:
brew install libgit2 udunits gdal proj
Note that this assumes that you have the Homebrew package manager already setup on your Mac. If you’re a beginning computational scientist using a Mac, I strongly encourage you to install Homebrew. Sooner or later you will need some specific Linux/unix program anyway, and Homebrew is the way to get it (Mac is a unix machine, but without Homebrew a very poor one by default).
Testing slendr installation on a fresh, pristine Debian installation with no dependencies previously installed, I had to run the following:
sudo apt-get install libudunits2-dev libssl-dev libgdal-dev libgsl-dev libgit2-dev libfontconfig1-dev libharfbuzz-dev libfribidi-dev
It’s very unlikely you would need all of the above (and you might need other packages on non-Debian distributions), but this is what got slendr and all of its dependencies running on a completely clean system. Might be a good start in case you have trouble on your Linux machine.
No special treatment should be necessary to get slendr
running. If you install slendr via
install.packages("slendr"), you will get the binary version
of the package and all its dependencies without any need for compiling
The forward population genetic software SLiM is available on all
major software platforms. Its complete installation instructions can be
found here. On a
Mac, I recommend installing SLiM via the
installer available for direct download from its website. On
Linux, you can either install SLiM via the appropriate package
manager for your Linux distribution (see SLiM manual here for more information), or
you can easily compile your own. To install SLiM on
Windows, please follow the instructions in section 2.3.1 of the
SLiM manual. Note that although SLiM is also available on conda, it
comes without SLiMgui!
Note that slendr requires SLiM 4.0 and will not work with an
earlier version. Again, running
library(slendr) will inform
you of any potential issues with your SLiM installation.
In order for slendr to be able to find your SLiM
installation, R must be able to find the
slim binary (or
slim.exe in case of Windows) in the so called
variable. The easiest way to verify that this is true is to call
Windows) in your R session. For instance, on my own Mac, I get this:
On Windows, I get this (I followed the section 2.3.1 of the SLiM manual describing the most “official” way to install SLiM and I recommend you follow this as well):
If, on the other hand, you might get something like this — an empty string:
This means that your
$PATH R is not configured
properly and R (and slendr) won’t be able to find SLiM in the
How to add SLiM to the
$PATH then? Probably the most
convenient way to do this is by editing the
The precise location of this file depends on your operation system but
you can automatically get it open in a text editor by using this command
(you might have to do
Then, you can either add the following (note that there’s no
$ in this line!):
PATH="<path to directory with SLiM binaries>"
Alternatively, should you already have some
contents specified for your R session, you can get it by calling
Sys.getenv("PATH") in your R console, grab the entire
string you get in this way, and append the path where you installed SLiM
using an appropriate delimiter (
: on Linux/macOS,
; on Windows) to this string. In this case, the edit might
look something like this:
PATH="<original Sys.getenv("PATH") content><delimiter><path to directory with SLiM binaries>"
For instance, on my Mac, the
.Renviron file contains
this line (note the last item
/usr/local/bin matches the
slim I showed above):
On my testing Windows machine, I have this in the
.Renviron file (again, look for the path
C:/msys64/mingw64/bin;$PATH" which matches the
slim.exe binary shown above):
PATH="C:\\msys64\\usr\\bin;C:\\rtools43\\x86_64-w64-mingw32.static.posix\\bin;C:\\rtools43\\usr\\bin;C:\\Program Files (x86)\\R\\R-4.3.2\\bin\\x64;C:/msys64/mingw64/bin"
The most important check that your R can find SLiM is using
Sys.which() command described above. Before this gives
you a positive result, you won’t be able to use slendr’s
spatial SLiM simulations. If you’re struggling with this,
search for advice related to
If you don’t want to deal with editing the
file, you should be able to set the path to SLiM using the command
Sys.setenv(PATH = "<path to directory with SLiM binaries>").
You will have to do this at the beginning of each of your slendr R
slim() function has an argument
slim_path= where you can specify the full path to the
slim.exe binaries directly (not the
directory as it’s the case with the
$PATH! the full path to
slim.exe binary itself).
In order to be able to run coalescent simulations and process tree-sequence files, slendr needs Python modules tskit, msprime, and pyslim (it also needs the pandas library).
Setting up an isolated Python environment with specific version of Python packages (which is very important to avoid clashes among different Python programs needed by your system) can be a bit of a hassle for some users. This is especially true for R users who might not use Python in their daily work.
In order to make sure that the R package has the most appropriate
version of Python available, with the correct versions of all of its
Python module dependencies, slendr provides a dedicated
setup_env() which automatically downloads
a completely separate Python distribution and installs the required
versions of tskit, msprime, and pyslim
modules into a dedicated virtual environment. Moreover, this
Python installation and virtual environment are entirely
isolated from other Python configurations that are already present on
the user’s system, avoiding potential conflicts with the
versions of Python and Python modules required by slendr.
Next time you call
library(slendr), you will
need to activate this environment automatically by calling
init_env(). If you’re not comfortable with Python
you don’t need to worry beyond calling
init_env(), no interaction with Python is necessary for
working with slendr in R.
In order to support Windows, slendr uses conda to download a
Python interpreter as explained above. Given this fact, when you run
setup_env(), slendr tries to leverage conda being
present to install its Python dependencies (msprime,
tskit, pyslim, pandas) via conda itself.
Unfortunately, conda can break for frustratingly many random reasons
which completely trips up
setup_env(). If you run into this
issue, there is a fallback option to install Python dependencies
msprime, tskit, pyslim, and pandas
pip which, unlike conda, works practically
every time. If your
setup_env() fails for some
conda-related reason, first clear the broken environment by calling
clear_env(), restart your R session, and then call
setup_env(pip = TRUE) instead of the default
setup_env(). Note that this might require you to
install the GSL
numerical library, but that’s a trivial issue on macOS
brew install gsl) and Linux (on Ubuntu, for instance,
sudo apt-get install libgsl-dev).
In case you are wondering how does slendr accomplish the above: slendr’s Python interface is implemented using the R package reticulate. This embeds a Python interpreter inside an R session, enabling high-performance interoperability between both languages without any need for user intervention.
There is currently no official Docker image for slendr but there will be one soon. The current plan is to use the geospatial image published by the Rocker project (which already contains pre-compiled R, RStudio, and all necessary R package dependencies such as sf ) and extend it with slendr and SLiM.