• Author: Hong Xu, Hilmar Lapp, John Bradley
  • Maintainer: Hilmar Lapp

Most of the services provided with the Phenoscape Knowledgebase API return data in JSON format, plain text (usually tab-delimited), and NeXML. This package facilitates interfacing with the Phenoscape Knowledgebase for searching ontology terms, retrieving term info, and querying data matrices.


The development version of RPhenoscape is available on Github. It has not yet been released to CRAN. To install RPhenoscape from Github, use the install_github() function in the remotes package (which can be installed from CRAN using install.packages()):


By default, this will skip building the package vignettes. To build and install package vignettes as well, you must have recent versions of the knitr and rmarkdown packages installed, and use additional parameters, depending on the version of the remotes package you have installed, to request building vignettes.

## [1] '2.4.2'

If the version is 2.1.0 or higher, use the build_vignettes parameter (which by default is FALSE):

remotes::install_github("phenoscape/rphenoscape", build_vignettes = TRUE)

If the version of remotes is lower, use the build_opts parameter:

remotes::install_github("phenoscape/rphenoscape", build_opts=c("--no-manual"))

Once installed, the package can be loaded (“attached”) as any other R package:

Upgrading from an earlier version

Until v1.x is released, upgrades from one minor (patch) release to another, i.e., from v0.x.n to v0.x.m where m > n, can be expected to be fully backwards compatible. Upgrading to a new major release, i.e., from v0.n.x to v0.m.y, where m > n, should be expected to be at least in part backwards incompatible.

A backwards incompatible change may result in deprecation warnings being issued, or errors when using a no longer supported function. Whenever possible, we will try to provide a deprecation path. Function or arguments that are deprecated in one major release may be dropped and thus result in an error in the next major release.

Specifically, upgrading from v0.2.x to v0.3.y includes a number of backwards incompatible changes, including a large-scale streamlining and restructuring of the function API.

Package Usage Information

The functionality and operations of the RPhenoscape package can be viewed on the dedicated package website: http://rphenoscape.phenoscape.org/

Use cases described there include the following:

  • Using OntoTrace to obtain a character matrix
  • Obtaining the character matrices for studies published for a taxonomic clade
  • Subsetting matrices by taxonomic subgroup or anatomical part
  • Searching for details for a given taxon

By definition, most functions in this package connect to the Phenoscape Knowledgebase API. The base URL path to the API endpoints can changed from the default by setting the PHENOSCAPE_API environment variable. (See R Startup and RStudio support on .Renviron on how to control environment variables at R session startup.)

Phenoscape Knowledgebase