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Help with installing RQDA

RQDA user interface
The RQDA User Interface

RQDA is software for computer-aided qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) and is specifically tailored for use with the R programming language and statistical computing environment. Last year I was privileged to use RQDA in carrying out the data analysis for an assessment involving 4 Nigerian States. It’s a great package, and very user-friendly. I was able to engage a team of non-programmers and after a 2-hour training, they were good to go, giving me great results.

A few months ago, somebody raised an alarm on the package’s GitHub repository. RQDA was gone!

GitHub Issue #38: Package was archived on CRAN
You need to see the comments that followed after!

What followed was a long discussion – many researchers were adversely affected by this development. Fortunately, my project was properly isolated using package management powered by renv and I really had no problems at all. But others were not so fortunate, and some didn’t even know how to start solving the problem. I participated somewhat on the thread to see how I could help out a few people.

You see, what had happened was that some of the dependencies of RQDA on CRAN, the Comprehensive R Archive Network, had been upgraded and the maintainer of RQDA, Prof. Ronggi Huang of Fudan University, China, was yet to upgrade the project accordingly. With the upgrading of R to version 4.0, these packages were all archived on CRAN and could not be installed the regular way i.e. with install.package(). On a good day, installing RQDA already presents some challenges, because of the graphical user interface (GUI) libraries it uses. Now it was impossible, except for advanced R users.

One of the developers on the thread took it upon himself to work on a fork of the project and came up with a good solution. And it worked. RQDA could be downloaded and installed with little or no pain. However, when colleagues asked whether he was going to commit to maintaining the fork or even pushing to CRAN, he declined, and rightly so. Instructions for using his branch can be found here.

Given this scenario, I decided that it would be good to also develop a solution based on the last available CRAN version, even though it was archived. I therefore came up with an R script that can be used both in the shell and within an R session. With this solution, RQDA can be successfully installed from CRAN on the current version of R (v4.0.2), I tried to provide informative messages to guide would-be users in carrying out the required steps – in some cases, there might be a need to stop the script and carry out an intermediary step at the R console. This script has been uploaded here as a GitHub Gist.

To use this script, follow these steps:

  1. Download the script and save it to disk–its name is gwdg-arch.R. Note the location where it is saved.
  2. Navigate to the directory/folder where the file in the shell or in an R session.
  3. Run the script:
    • If in the shell, use Rscript gwdg-arch.R.
    • If in the R console, use source("gwdg-arch.R")
  4. If RGtk2 was successfully installed by the script, it will terminate. You should now go to the R console and run library(RGtk2); this will bring up a dialog, asking you to install Gtk+. Accept it.
  5. After installing Gtk+, run the script again to download and install the other packages, including RQDA.
  6. If the above steps fail, perhaps your system is lacking some extraneous dependency. Run the script in the shell, only this time add the flag --verbose. This will print out more messages to help identify the possible cause of the problem.

Feel free to give me a shout.

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