Introduction: Using Alambic for reproducible research

Alambic uses R to run analysis on metrics and project data, and to draw plots. The following R packages are available in the standard installation:

A couple of other packages are available for various purposes:

The complete and up-to-date list of R packages required to install Alambic, and available for plugins, is available in the Docker installation script in $ALAMBIC_HOME/docker/image_base_centos/

Building a new plugin for R markdown documents

Alambic offers an easy way to run custom R markdown file, with pre-loaded data sets (metrics, indicators, attributes). All the information retrieved and computed by pre-plugins is also available for computations.

Building a custom plugin to run your own R markdown file is straight-forward.

Make a copy of the GenericR plugin

The plugin is composed of the main module file ( and a directory (GenericR/) containing the R files. The adopted naming convention is to use the plugin ID, camel case, for both files.

Make a copy of the GenericR plugin, located in the $MOJO/lib/Alambic/Plugins directory.

$ cd $MOJO/lib/Alambic/Plugins/
$ cp
$ cp -r GenericR/ MyRMarkdown/

Edit the main module file:

$ emacs

Edit the main configuration hash of the plugin and update the following fields:

For our example, the file would look like this:

my %conf = (
  "id"   => "MyRMarkdown",
  "name" => "Generic R plugin",
  "desc" => [
      "The generic R plugin enables users to easily define their own R markdown files to automatically run analysis on projects.",
      'See <a href="">the project\'s wiki</a> for more information.',
  "type"             => "post",
  "ability"          => ['data'],
  "params"           => {},
  "provides_cdata"   => [],
  "provides_info"    => [],
  "provides_data"    => {
      "generic_r.pdf" => "The PDF document generated from the R markdown file.",
  "provides_metrics" => {},
  "provides_figs"    => {},
  "provides_recs" => [],
  "provides_viz"  => {},

And you're done. Start the application again, and the plugin should appear in the list.

Edit R files

This plugin uses the RMarkdown syntax and engine to process the file. Edit the R file in the directory of the new plugin:

$ cd MyRMarkdown/
$ emacs generic_r.Rmd

The initialisation of the document is done in the first R chunk (named init). It loads the definition of metrics and attributes as data frames (resp. metrics_ref and attrs_ref) and the values of metrics and attributes for the current run (resp. metrics and attrs).

The actual implementation of the GenericR plugin can serve as a reference to understand how R code chunks work and how to display data or graphics in the document.

Depending on the configuration of the project, other data files can be loaded directly from the input and output directories. See the example of the Git analysis in the GenericR R markdown file.