Chapter 2 Installation

During this practical you will be using WhiteboxTools, an open-source GIS software package for hydro-geomorphic applications. While it contains much of the functionality found in a standard GIS software package, it also includes novel functionality specific to hydrological analysis. The tools are also computationally efficient (i.e. fast!), taking advantage of parallel processing and other advancements in computing power. Finally, the tools are developed for cross-platform use, so can be accessed through code (e.g. R, Python) or other GUIs (e.g. QGIS, ArcGIS) if required.

To run WhiteboxTools functions (WBT), we’ll be using R as a front-end interface. This will allow us to access and run all of the relevant hydrological functions from WBT, while utilising the statistical and visualisation capabilities of R.

2.1 R

If you’re working on a university-managed computer (in HBS 2.2, HBS 2.88 or Mansfield Cooper 2.01) or accessing the course via Citrix, both R and RStudio (described below) should already be installed or can be accessed through the Software Centre.

To Install R on a personal computer:

  • Open an internet browser and go to
  • Click the “download R” link in the middle of the page under “Getting Started.”
  • Select a CRAN location (a mirror site) and click the corresponding link e.g. the site provided by Imperial College London.
  • Click on the “Download R for Windows” link, or the relevant link for your operating system (macOS, Linux).
  • Click on ‘base’ and then Download R [Version Number] for Windows. The current version is 4.2.2.
  • Once downloaded, double click the application file (.exe) and follow the installation instructions.

2.2 R Studio

While R is now installed, it is good practice to use an integrated development environment (IDE) to access and run R functions. The most well known IDE for R is RStudio, which includes a console, higher quality graphics, as well as tools for plotting, history, debugging and workspace management.

Note: R may be used without RStudio, but RStudio cannot be used without R.

To Install RStudio on a personal computer:

  • Go to and click on Download RStudio for Windows. Installers for macOS and other operating systems are available below.

  • Once downloaded, double click the application file (.exe) and follow the installation instructions.

2.3 Course materials

All the data required for this sets of practicals are available on Blackboard under Course Content → Week 8 to 12.

Download the folder, save it to an appropriate location and extract the contents (unzip).

The directory structure is as follows:

  • GEOG70581
    • Data
      • Practical_1
      • Practical_2
    • Images
      • Practical_1
      • Practical_2
    • Output
      • Practical_1
      • Practical_2

All the required data files for Practicals 1 and 2 are stored in the associated sub-directory within Data.

As we move through the practicals, we’ll be creating a number of additional GIS files and we encourage you to save these within the corresponding sub-directory within Output.

Finally, maps and figures will be required for the assessment. These can be exported directly from R and stored in Images.