The output file of pkglite::pack() uses a standard file format to allow the storage, exchange, and parsing of the packaged assets. The specification for this file is detailed below.

Filename and extension

Unless specified, the output file is automatically named.

  • A single R package named pkg1 is packed into pkg1.txt.
  • Multiple R packages named pkg1, pkg2, … are packed into pkglite.txt.

The file extension is .txt so that one can recognize, open, and inspect it directly using regular text editors.

File format

The overall goal here is to make the file format unambiguous, human-friendly, and machine-readable. For pkglite.txt, we follow the DCF (Debian Control File) format, used by Debian, R, and RStudio IDE. The minimalist, time-tested format allows us to save key-value data in plain text that humans can easily read and write. The format is also extendable to include more information about the assets being packed.

File structure

A pkglite.txt is structured following these rules:

  • One file contains multiple DCF format blocks.
  • Each block includes the metadata and the content of one file in an R package.
  • Each block is separated by a blank line. The last block has a trailing blank line.

Field names and values

Each block has at least four key-value pairs called fields. For example:

Package: pkglite
File: R/pkglite-package.R
Format: text
  #' @keywords internal

The keys and values in these fields are separated by a colon and a whitespace except for Content, whose value part starts in a new line.


R package name. Since one pkglite.txt might contain files from multiple packages, this field is used to declare the package the file is under explicitly.

This design implies that each pkglite.txt can only store multiple R packages with unique names.


The relative path (to the package root) of the file.


File format category. It can be text or binary. This determines how the file content will be read and written.


The file content. The text format files are stored as-is, while the binary files are stored in the hexadecimal format, following the RTF format convention. In both cases, two whitespaces are added before each line of the value part.