build_site() is a convenient wrapper around six functions:

See the documentation for the each function to learn how to control that aspect of the site.

Note if names of generated files were changed, you will need to use clean_site first to clean up orphan files.

build_site(pkg = ".", examples = TRUE, document = TRUE,
  run_dont_run = FALSE, seed = 1014, mathjax = TRUE, lazy = FALSE,
  override = list(), preview = NA, new_process = TRUE)



Path to package.


Run examples?


If TRUE, will run devtools::document() before updating the site.


Run examples that are surrounded in \dontrun?


Seed used to initialize so that random examples are reproducible.


Use mathjax to render math symbols?


If TRUE, will only rebuild articles and reference pages if the source is newer than the destination.


An optional named list used to temporarily override values in _pkgdown.yml


If TRUE, or && interactive(), will preview freshly generated section in browser.


If TRUE, will run build_site() in a separate process. This enhances reproducibility by ensuring nothing that you have loaded in the current process affects the build process.

YAML config

There are four top-level YAML settings that affect the entire site: destination, url, title, template, and navbar.

destination controls where the site will be generated. It defaults to docs/ (for GitHub pages), but you can override if desired. Relative paths will be taken relative to the package root.

url optionally specifies the url where the site will be published. If you supply this, other pkgdown sites will link to your site when needed, rather than using generic links to

title overrides the default site title, which is the package name. It's used in the page title and default navbar.

You can also provided information to override the default display of the authors. Provided a list named with the name of each author, including href to add a link, or html to override the text:

  Hadley Wickham:
    html: <img src="" height="24" />

Development mode

The development mode of a site controls four main things:

  • Where the site is built.

  • The colour of the package version in the navbar.

  • The optional tooltip associated with the version.

  • The indexing of the site by search engines.

There are currently three possible development modes:

  • release: site written to docs/, the version gets the default colouring, and no message.

  • development: written to docs/dev/, the version gets a danger label, and message stating these are docs for an in-development version of the package. The noindex meta tag is used to ensure that these packages are not indexed by search engines.

  • unreleased: the package is written to docs/, the version gets a "danger" label, and the message indicates the package is not yet on CRAN.

The default development mode is "release". You can override it by adding a new development field to _pkgdown.yml, e.g.

  mode: development

You can also have pkgdown automatically detect the mode with:

  mode: auto

The mode will be automatically determined based on the version number:

  • unreleased

  • four version components: development

  • everything else -> release

There are three other options that you can control:

  destination: dev
  version_label: danger
  version_tooltip: "Custom message here"

destination allows you to override the default subdirectory used for the development site; it defaults to dev/. version_label allows you to override the style used for development (and unreleased) versions of the package. It defaults to "danger", but you can set to "default", "info", or "warning" instead. (The precise colours are determined by your bootstrap theme, but become progressively more eye catching as you go from default to danger). Finally, you can choose to override the default tooltip with version_tooltip.

YAML config - navbar

navbar controls the navbar at the top of the page. It has two primary components: structure and components. These components interact in a somewhat complicated way, but the complexity allows you to make minor tweaks to part of the navbar while relying on pkgdown to automatically generate the rest.

The structure defines the layout of the navbar, i.e. the order of the components, and whether they're right aligned or left aligned. You can use this component to change the order of the default components, and to add your own components.

    left:  [home, intro, reference, articles, tutorials, news]
    right: [github]

The components describes the appearance of each element in the navbar. It uses the same syntax as RMarkdown. The following YAML snippet illustrates some of the most important features.

  home: ~
    text: Articles
    - text: Category A
    - text: Title A1
      href: articles/a1.html
    - text: Title A2
      href: articles/a2.html
    - text: -------
    - text: "Category B"
    - text: Title B1
      href: articles/b1.html
     icon: fa-lg fa-twitter

Components can contain sub-menus with headings (indicated by missing href) and separators (indicated by a bunch of -). You can use icons from fontawesome: see a full list

This yaml would override the default "articles" component, eliminate the "home" component, and add a new "twitter" component. Unless you explicitly mention new components in the structure they'll be added to the far right of the left menu.

You can use docsearch by algolia to add search to your site.

      api_key: API_KEY
      index_name: INDEX_NAME

You also need to add a url: field to _pkgdown.yml that specifies the location of your documentation on the web. For pkgdown, the URL field is:


See vignette("pkgdown") for details.

YAML config - template

You can get complete control over the appearance of the site using the template component. There are two components to the template: the HTML templates used to layout each page, and the css/js assets used to render the page in the browser.

The easiest way to tweak the default style is to use a bootswatch template, by passing on the bootswatch template parameter to the built-in template:

    bootswatch: cerulean

See a complete list of themes and preview how they look at

Optionally provide the ganalytics template parameter to enable Google Analytics. It should correspond to your tracking id.

    ganalytics: UA-000000-01

Suppress indexing of your pages by web robots by setting noindex: true:

    noindex: true

You can also override the default templates and provide additional assets. You can do so by either storing in a package with directories inst/pkgdown/assets and inst/pkgdown/templates, or by supplying path and asset_path. To suppress inclusion of the default assets, set default_assets to false.

  package: mycustompackage
    # OR:
  path: path/to/templates
  assets: path/to/assets
  default_assets: false

These settings are currently recommended for advanced users only. There is little documentation, and you'll need to read the existing source for pkgdown templates to ensure that you use the correct components.



build_site(override = list(destination = tempdir()))
# }