The goal of rmdgallery is to provide an R Markdown site generator that supports the inclusion of a gallery of (embedded) pages created in a dynamic way based on metadata in JSON or YAML format.

An example of using rmdgallery can can be found in the rmd-gallery-example GitHub repository.


You can install the latest released version of rmdgallery package from GitHub with:


If you have a website R project, you can define rmdgallery as a dependency in the DESCRIPTION file, with the corresponding entry in the Remotes: field (possibly specifying which release tag to use):


See e.g. rmd-gallery-example.

If you want to use the development version of the package, it is available from the develop branch riccardoporreca/rmdgallery@develop, which can be used with remotes::install_github()


or in the Remotes: field of the DESCRIPTION file.

Using rmdgallery

The provided rmdgallery::gallery_site function (or it alias rmdgallery::gallery_site_generator) can be used as custom site generator for rendering a simple R Markdown website via rmarkdown::render_site(). As such it must be specified as site: field of index.(R)md

title: "My Website"
site: rmdgallery::gallery_site

Below we describe how the metadata for multiple pages are defined and used to render pages based on alternative templates, and how specific site configuration is added to the standard _site.yml configuration file.

Page metadata and templates

At the core of rmdgallery are R Markdown templates for the pages to be included in the website, containing placeholders for metadata. The details behind how templates define and make use of metadata are covered in section ‘Custom templates’ below.

The specific metadata of each individual page are defined in JSON (.json) or YAML (.yml, .yaml) file(s) in the meta directory of the website project. For example, the following YAML (or an analogous JSON)

  title: Embed raw html content
  menu_entry: HTML example
  template: embed-html
  content: <h3>Hello Rmd Gallery</h3>

  title: Embed content from an external URL
  menu_entry: URL example
  menu_icon: fa-gear
  template: embed-url

defines the metadata for pages rendered as foo.html and bar.html with the given page title, also adding the specified menu_entry to the site navigation bar. The entry for bar.html in the site navigation bar will also include the specified menu_icon.

The way metadata, especially the content, are used to produce the resulting page depends on the specified template. Templates might in general make use of additional specific metadata fields, which can also be used for additional content included in the custom site configuration.

The predefined templates provided by rmdgallery are described next.

"template": "embed-url"

Embed a page given its URL, using <ifame src={{content}}>, where {{content}} is the embedded page URL specified as content in the metadata. In addition, an optional css field in the metadata allows to fine-tune the CSS style of the <iframe>. In particular, height can be useful for defining the height (in valid CSS units) of the embedded non-responsive content, as in the following JSON example:

  "foo": {
    "title": "My Title",
    "template": "embed-url",
    "content": "",
    "css": {
      "height": "80vh"

"template": "embed-html"

Embed the HTML code defined in the content field of the metadata. This can be used for cases where more complex, custom embedding code must be supplied (e.g. social media, videos)

"template": "embed-script"

Embed based on JavaScript, using <script src={{content}}>, where {{content}} is the URL of a .js script. This is a special case of embed-html, useful e.g. for embedding a GitHub gist.

Page types

An alternative way to defining a template field in the metadata is to use a custom field (e.g., my_type) defining the page type, and associate its possible custom values to actual templates. This is achieved by defining the type_field (e.g., type_field: my_type) and the type_template list of value-to-template maps (e.g., type_1: embed-url) in the gallery configuration (see below), so that metadata specifying field my_type: type_1 (e.g. in YAML format) would be rendered using the embed-url template.

This approach can be particularly useful for galleries with user-contributed pages and metadata, where context-specific types (e.g., type: shiny) would be more informative than the rather technical template.

Configuration and customization

Configuration and customization of the website specific to rmdgallery::gallery_site_generator are defined by adding a gallery: field to the standard _site.yml configuration file. The following example describes the available options:

name: "my-website"
  title: "My Website"
    - text: "Home"
      href: index.html
  meta_dir: "meta"
  single_meta: false
  order_by: [title, desc(another_field)]
  template_dir: "path/to/cutom/templates"
  type_field: my_type
    type_1: embed-url
    type_2: embed-html
    template: embed-url
      - text: "Gallery"
        icon: fa-gear
  include_before: _includes/before_gallery.html
  include_after: _includes/after_gallery.R
  • meta_dir: Optional name of the directory containing .json, .yml and .yaml metadata files. Defaults to meta if not specified.

  • single_meta: Optional true or false defining whether the files define metadata for individual pages, in which case e.g. a file foo.json would contain only the metadata for the foo.html page. Defaults to false if not specified.

  • order_by: Optional fields used to sort the list of metadata. Use desc(<field>) for decreasing order. If missing, the default page_name is a field added by rmdgallery containing the name of the entry in the metadata list for each page.

  • template_dir: Optional location of additional custom templates.

  • type_field:, type_template: Optional fields defining custom page types (see ‘Page types’ above).

  • defaults: Optional list of default values for unspecified metadata fields.

  • navbar: The gallery navigation menu to be included in the standard navbar: of _site.yml. The menu is populated with the menu_entry of each page from the metadata. Can be omitted if no such menu should be included.

  • include_before:, include_after: Optional path to files defining custom content included before and after the main content. Both are included for each page and may be defined in terms of fields from the metadata using {{...}}. Such placeholders are then processed using glue::glue_data(meta), where meta is the list of metadata for a given page. This allows to use simple string replacements in raw HTML code, as in the following example of _includes/before_gallery.html

    <hr>include_before for {{title}}<hr/>

    but also to define complete R expressions constructing HTML elements via htmltools, as in the following _includes/after_gallery.R:

        htmltools::hr(), "include_after for", title, htmltools::hr()

You can see the various elements of the configuration in action in the rmd-gallery-example GitHub repository.

Site-relative paths

Paths to additional files (e.g. to source() utilities), needed when evaluating {{...}} expressions based on page-specific metadata and at rendering time, can be safely constructed as relative to the site source directory using function site_path().

Custom templates

Besides the templates provided with rmdgallery (described above), it is possible to define custom R Markdown templates. These are standard R Markdown documents (as you would normally include in a simple R Markdown website), which however will be populated with specific page metadata using two mechanisms:

  • Similar to what described for include_before:, include_after: above, any expression {{...}} is evaluated via glue::glue_data(meta) by looking up values from the list of metadata extracted from the JSON and YAML file(s). For example, the placeholder {{toupper(title)}} will be replaced with the uppercase version of the title: entry in the metadata. Such elements can be placed anywhere in the R Markdown document (not necessarily a code chunk), and make use of htmltools (see again include_before:, include_after: from the gallery: configuration above).

  • When the template is rendered for a given page, the metadata are also passed as params list. As such, templates work like parameterized reports and the relevant metadata should be declared as params: in the YAML front matter, along with sensible defaults. Metadata defined in this way are then evaluated as e.g. params$content in R code chunks or via `r params$content` inline.

The two approaches can coexist, but keep in mind that rendering the template as parameterized report happens after evaluating {{...}} placeholders. Also note that params cannot be used in the YAML front matter, so you should only use {{...}} there, which is always the case with title: {{title}}.

In addition to the metadata in the JSON and YAML files, a gallery_config element with the content of gallery: from the _site.yml configuration is also available when processing the template. In particular, gallery_config$include_before and gallery_config$include_after are added with placeholder expressions already evaluated, and templates should explicitly make use them to include them in the rendered page content.

Function rmdgallery::gallery_content() facilitates the construction of the content in a standardized way and it usage is recommended. In particular, it handles gallery_config$include_before and gallery_config$include_after and provides a common set of classed HTML elements (see below).

The templates provided within the package can be seen under ‘inst/templates’ in the source package, and are available at system.file("templates", package = "rmdgallery") for the installed package.

CSS customization

The content of gallery pages constructed using the provided templates (or any custom template making use of rmdgallery::gallery_content()) have the following general structure (see also ?rmdgallery::gallery_content)

<div class="gallery-container {template/metadata-specific classes}">
  <div class="gallery-before">{include_before}</div>
  <div class="gallery-main">{main content}</div>
  <div class="gallery-before">{include_after}</div>

which provide a convenient basis for styling the elements using CSS selectors.