The rstan_create_package() function helps get you started developing a new R package that interfaces with Stan via the rstan package. First the basic package structure is set up via usethis::create_package(). Then several adjustments are made so the package can include Stan programs that can be built into binary versions (i.e., pre-compiled Stan C++ code).

The Details section below describes the process and the See Also section provides links to recommendations for developers and a step-by-step walk-through.

As of version 2.0.0 of rstantools the rstan_package_skeleton() function is defunct and only rstan_create_package() is supported.

  fields = NULL,
  rstudio = TRUE,
  open = TRUE,
  stan_files = character(),
  roxygen = TRUE,
  travis = FALSE,
  license = TRUE,
  auto_config = TRUE



The path to the new package to be created (terminating in the package name).

fields, rstudio, open

Same as usethis::create_package(). See the documentation for that function, especially the note in the Description section about the side effect of changing the active project.


A character vector with paths to .stan files to include in the package.


Should roxygen2 be used for documentation? Defaults to TRUE. If so, a file `R/pkgname-package.R`` is added to the package with roxygen tags for the required import lines. See the Note section below for advice specific to the latest versions of roxygen2.


Should a .travis.yml file be added to the package directory? This argument is now deprecated. We recommend using GitHub Actions to set up automated testings for your package. See for useful templates.


Logical or character; whether or not to paste the contents of a license.stan file at the top of all Stan code, or path to such a file. If TRUE (the default) adds the GPL (>= 3) license (see Details).


Whether to automatically configure Stan functionality whenever the package gets installed (see Details). Defaults to TRUE.


This function first creates a regular R package using usethis::create_package(), then adds the infrastructure required to compile and export stanmodel objects. In the package root directory, the user's Stan source code is located in:

  |   |_include/

All .stan files containing instructions to build a stanmodel object must be placed in inst/stan. Other .stan files go in any stan/ subdirectory, to be invoked by Stan's #include mechanism, e.g.,

#include "include/mylib.stan"
#include "data/preprocess.stan"

See rstanarm for many examples.

The folder inst/include is for all user C++ files associated with the Stan programs. In this folder, the only file to directly interact with the Stan C++ library is stan_meta_header.hpp; all other #include directives must be channeled through here.

The final step of the package creation is to invoke rstan_config(), which creates the following files for interfacing with Stan objects from R:

  • src contains the stan_ModelName{.cc/.hpp} pairs associated with all ModelName.stan files in inst/stan which define stanmodel objects.

  • src/Makevars[.win] which link to the StanHeaders and Boost (BH) libraries.

  • R/stanmodels.R loads the C++ modules containing the stanmodel class definitions, and assigns an R instance of each stanmodel object to a stanmodels list (with names corresponding to the names of the Stan files).

When auto_config = TRUE, a configure[.win] file is added to the package, calling rstan_config() whenever the package is installed. Consequently, the package must list rstantools in the DESCRIPTION Imports field for this mechanism to work. Setting auto_config = FALSE removes the package's dependency on rstantools, but the package then must be manually configured by running rstan_config() whenever stanmodel files in inst/stan are added, removed, or modified.

In order to enable Stan functionality, rstantools copies some files to your package. Since these files are licensed as GPL= 3, the same license applies to your package should you choose todistribute it. Even if you don't use rstantools to createyour package, it is likely that you will be linking to Rcpp toexport the Stan C++ stanmodel objects to R. SinceRcpp is released under GPL >= 2, the same license would applyto your package upon distribution.

Authors willing to license their Stan programs of general interest under the GPL are invited to contribute their .stan files and supporting R code to the rstanarm package.


For devtools users, because of changes in the latest versions of roxygen2 it may be necessary to run pkgbuild::compile_dll() once before devtools::document() will work.

Using the pre-compiled Stan programs in your package

The stanmodel objects corresponding to the Stan programs included with your package are stored in a list called stanmodels. To run one of the Stan programs from within an R function in your package just pass the appropriate element of the stanmodels list to one of the rstan functions for model fitting (e.g., sampling()). For example, for a Stan program "foo.stan" you would use rstan::sampling(stanmodels$foo, ...).

See also

  • use_rstan() for adding Stan functionality to an existing R package and rstan_config() for updating an existing package when its Stan files are changed.

  • The rstanarm package repository on GitHub.

  • Guidelines and recommendations for developers of R packages interfacing with Stan and a demonstration getting a simple package working can be found in the vignettes included with rstantools and at

  • After reading the guidelines for developers, if you have trouble setting up your package let us know on the the Stan Forums or at the rstantools GitHub issue tracker.