R Notebook Format

Otter Assign is compatible with Otter’s R autograding system and currently supports Jupyter notebook master documents. The format for using Otter Assign with R is very similar to the Python format with a few important differences.

Assignment Metadata

As with Python, Otter Assign for R also allows you to specify various assignment generation arguments in an assignment metadata cell.

init_cell: false
export_cell: true

This cell is removed from both output notebooks. Any unspecified keys will keep their default values. For more information about many of these arguments, see Usage and Output. The YAML block below lists all configurations supported with R and their defaults. Any keys that appear in the Python section but not below will be ignored when using Otter Assign with R.

requirements: requirements.txt # path to a requirements file for Gradescope; appended by default
overwrite_requirements: false  # whether to overwrite Otter's default requirements rather than appending
template_pdf: false            # whether to generate a manual question template PDF for Gradescope
generate:                      # configurations for running Otter Generate; defaults to false
  points: null                 # number of points to scale assignment to on Gradescope
  threshold: null              # a pass/fail threshold for the assignment on Gradescope
  show_stdout: false           # whether to show grading stdout to students once grades are published
  show_hidden: false           # whether to show hidden test results to students once grades are published
files: []                      # a list of file paths to include in the distribution directories

Autograded Questions

Here is an example question in an Otter Assign for R formatted notebook:


For code questions, a question is a description Markdown cell, followed by a solution code cell and zero or more test code cells. The description cell must contain a code block (enclosed in triple backticks ```) that begins with BEGIN QUESTION on its own line, followed by YAML that defines metadata associated with the question.

The rest of the code block within the description cell must be YAML-formatted with the following fields (in any order):

  • name (required) - a string identifier that is a legal file name (without an extension)

  • manual (optional) - a boolean (default false); whether to include the response cell in a PDF for manual grading

  • points (optional) - a number or list of numbers for the point values of each question. If a list of values, each case gets its corresponding value. If a single value, the number is divided by the number of cases so that a question with \(n\) cases has test cases worth \(\frac{\text{points}}{n}\) points.

As an example, the question metadata below indicates an autograded question q1 with 3 subparts worth 1, 2, and 1 points, resp.

name: q1
  - 1
  - 2
  - 1

Solution Removal

Solution cells contain code formatted in such a way that the assign parser replaces lines or portions of lines with prespecified prompts. The format for solution cells in R notebooks is the same as in Python notebooks, described here. Otter Assign’s solution removal for prompts is compatible with normal strings in R, including assigning these to a dummy variable so that there is no undesired output below the cell:

# this is OK:
some.var <- ...

Test Cells

The test cells are any code cells following the solution cell that begin with the comment ## Test ## or ## Hidden Test ## (case insensitive). A Test is distributed to students so that they can validate their work. A Hidden Test is not distributed to students, but is used for scoring their work. When writing tests, each test cell should be a single call to testthat::test_that and there should be no code outside of the test_that call. For example, instead of

## Test ##
data = data.frame()
test_that("q1a", {
    # some test

do the following:

## Test ##
test_that("q1a", {
    data = data.frame()
    # some test

The removal behavior regarding questions with no solution provided holds for R notebooks.

Manually Graded Questions

Otter Assign also supports manually-graded questions using a similar specification to the one described above. The behavior for manually graded questions in R is exactly the same as it is in Python.