The modelbuilder package allows the building and analysis of compartmental dynamical systems models without the need to write code.

Package description

The package provides a graphical user interface that allows a user to create and analyze compartmental dynamical models without having to write code.

Intended audience and goal of the package

The audience for this app are individuals interested in dynamical models who are new to coding, but nevertheless want to develop and analyze such computer models.

Installing the package

The package is currently only on Github. Install from there using devtools with these commands.

Package installation is a one-time process, unless R itself is being upgraded/reinstalled. Note that the package depends on other packages, which will also be installed as needed.

Starting the package

Every time a new R/Rstudio session is started, the package needs to be loaded:


followed by starting the main menu for the package:

This will bring up a graphical user interface from which everything is done. Once your are done using modelbuilder, simply close the graphical user interface.

Building a model

  • The ‘build’ tab allows you to either build a new model if currently no model is loaded, or modify an existing, currently loaded model.
  • You should probably first sketch out your model as a diagram (and/or equations) so you know which compartments, parameters and processes/flows to include.
  • Use the add/remove buttons to add variables/flows/parameters to the model.
  • A few notes on model building:
    • You need to fill all empty fields.
    • All variables need to start with an uppercase letter, all parameters need to start with a lowercase letter. Only letters and numbers are allowed.
    • Flows can include variables, parameters and the following mathematical symbols: +-*/^() Other symbols (e.g. sin or cos) are not yet implemented.
    • If a flow indicates moving from one compartment to another, you need to write it twice. E.g. if susceptible move to infected, you need a -bSI outflow for the susceptibles and the corresponding bSI inflow for infected.
    • Every parameter used in one of the flows must be specified in the model parameter section.
  • Once you think your model is correct, press the Make Model button. modelbuilder will check to make sure all the information you entered seems valid and follows the above listed rules. That does not mean your model is correct/right! It only means that the error checks couldn’t find anything that made it look like an improperly defined modelbuilder model object. If there are errors, you will be told to fix them. Once no errors are found, you have the option to save your model as an .Rdata file. This is recommended if you want to later load and further edit or analyze it. If you don’t save and modelbuilder closes for whatever reasons, your model is gone.
  • Once your model has been created, you will see the equations displayed. Check them to make sure they look as you expect, of not modify your model.
    • A diagram for the model will be drawn
    • You can download the diagram and the equations as figures

Analyzing a model

  • To analyze a model, you first need to load one or create one with the build functionality.
  • nce you have loaded or created a model, you can use the analyze tab to simulate your model for different parameter values and graphically analyze the results. You can choose if you want to run the model as ODE, stochastic or discrete time model.
    • Export code that runs the model with chosen settingsand produces the figure shown in the GUI.


In addition to the not-yet implemented features stated above, the following are planned:

  • Have import/export function to interface with SBML

Let us know if there are others you want to see implemented!