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I’m pleased to announced that the new haven package is now available on CRAN. Haven makes it easy to read data from SAS, SPSS and Stata. Haven has the same goal as the foreign package, but it:

  • Can read binary SAS7BDAT files.
  • Can read Stata13 files.
  • Always returns a data frame.

(Haven also has experimental support for writing SPSS and Stata data. This still has some rough edges but please try it out and report any problems that you find.)

Haven is a binding to the excellent ReadStat C library by Evan Miller. Haven wouldn’t be possible without his hard work – thanks Evan! I’d also like to thank Matt Shotwell who spend a lot of time reverse engineering the SAS binary data format, and Dennis Fisher who tested the SAS code with thousands of SAS files.

Usage

Using haven is easy:

  • Install it, install.packages("haven"),
  • Load it, library(haven),
  • Then pick the appropriate read function:
    • SAS: read_sas()
    • SPSS: read_sav() or read_por()
    • Stata: read_dta().

These only need the name of the path. (read_sas() optionally also takes the path to a catolog file.)

Output

All functions return a data frame:

  • The output also has class tbl_df which will improve the default print method (to only show the first ten rows and the variables that fit on one screen) if you have dplyr loaded. If you don’t use dplyr, it has no effect.
  • Variable labels are attached as an attribute to each variable. These are not printed (because they tend to be long), but if you have a preview version of RStudio, you’ll see them in the revamped viewer pane.
  • Missing values in numeric variables should be seemlessly converted. Missing values in character variables are converted to the empty string, "": if you want to convert them to missing values, use zap_empty().
  • Dates are converted in to Dates, and datetimes to POSIXcts. Time variables are read into a new class called hms which represents an offset in seconds from midnight. It has print() and format() methods to nicely display times, but otherwise behaves like an integer vector.
  • Variables with labelled values are turned into a new labelled class, as described next.

Labelled variables

SAS, Stata and SPSS all have the notion of a “labelled” variable. These are similar to factors, but:

  • Integer, numeric and character vectors can be labelled.
  • Not every value must be associated with a label.

Factors, by contrast, are always integers and every integer value must be associated with a label.

Haven provides a labelled class to model these objects. It doesn’t implement any common methods, but instead focusses of ways to turn a labelled variable into standard R variable:

  • as_factor(): turns labelled integers into factors. Any values that don’t have a label associated with them will become a missing value. (NB: there’s no way to make as.factor() work with labelled variables, so you’ll need to use this new function.)
  • zap_labels(): turns any labelled values into missing values. This deals with the common pattern where you have a continuous variable that has missing values indiciated by sentinel values.

If you have a use case that’s not covered by these function, please let me know.

Development

Haven is still under very active development. If you have problems loading a dataset, please try the development version, and if that doesn’t work, file an issue.

I’m very pleased to announce that Epoch.com has stepped up as a sponsor for the RMySQL package.

For the last 20 years, Epoch.com has built its Internet Payment Service Provider infrastructure on open source software. Their data team, led by Szilard Pafka, PhD, has been using R for nearly a decade, developing cutting-edge data visualization, machine learning and other analytical applications. According to Epoch, “We have always believed in the value of R and in the importance of contributing to the open source community.”

This sort of sponsorship is very important to me. While I already spend most of my time working on R packages, I don’t have the skills to fix every problem. Sponsorship allows me to hire outside experts. In this case, Epoch.com’s sponsorship allowed me to work with Jeroen Ooms to improve the build system for RMySQL so that a CRAN binary is available for every platform.

Is your company interested in sponsoring other infrastructure work that benefits the whole R community? If so, please get in touch.

I’m very pleased to announce that dplyr 0.4.0 is now available from CRAN. Get the latest version by running:

install.packages("dplyr")

dplyr 0.4.0 includes over 80 minor improvements and bug fixes, which are described in detail in the release notes. Here I wanted to draw your attention to two areas that have particularly improved since dplyr 0.3, two-table verbs and data frame support.

Two table verbs

dplyr now has full support for all two-table verbs provided by SQL:

  • Mutating joins, which add new variables to one table from matching rows in another: inner_join(), left_join(), right_join(), full_join(). (Support for non-equi joins is planned for dplyr 0.5.0.)
  • Filtering joins, which filter observations from one table based on whether or not they match an observation in the other table: semi_join(), anti_join().
  • Set operations, which combine the observations in two data sets as if they were set elements: intersect(), union(), setdiff().

Together, these verbs should allow you to solve 95% of data manipulation problems that involve multiple tables. If any of the concepts are unfamiliar to you, I highly recommend reading the two-table vignette (and if you still don’t understand, please let me know so I can make it better.)

Data frames

dplyr wraps data frames in a tbl_df class. These objects are structured in exactly the same way as regular data frames, but their behaviour has been tweaked a little to make them easier to work with. The new data_frames vignette describes how dplyr works with data frames in general, and below I highlight some of the features new in 0.4.0.

Printing

The biggest difference is printing: print.tbl_df() doesn’t try and print 10,000 rows! Printing got a lot of love in dplyr 0.4 and now:

  • All print() method methods invisibly return their input so you can interleave print() statements into a pipeline to see interim results.
  • If you’ve managed to produce a 0-row data frame, dplyr won’t try to print the data, but will tell you the column names and types:
    data_frame(x = numeric(), y = character())
    #> Source: local data frame [0 x 2]
    #> 
    #> Variables not shown: x (dbl), y (chr)
  • dplyr never prints row names since no dplyr method is guaranteed to preserve them:
    df <- data.frame(x = c(a = 1, b = 2, c = 3))
    df
    #>   x
    #> a 1
    #> b 2
    #> c 3
    df %>% tbl_df()
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 1]
    #> 
    #>   x
    #> 1 1
    #> 2 2
    #> 3 3

    I don’t think using row names is a good idea because it violates one of the principles of tidy data: every variable should be stored in the same way.

    To make life a bit easier if you do have row names, you can use the new add_rownames() to turn your row names into a proper variable:

    df %>% 
      add_rownames()
    #>   rowname x
    #> 1       a 1
    #> 2       b 2
    #> 3       c 3

    (But you’re better off never creating them in the first place.)

  • options(dplyr.print_max) is now 20, so dplyr will never print more than 20 rows of data (previously it was 100). The best way to see more rows of data is to use View().

Coercing lists to data frames

When you have a list of vectors of equal length that you want to turn into a data frame, dplyr provides as_data_frame() as a simple alternative to as.data.frame(). as_data_frame() is considerably faster than as.data.frame() because it does much less:

l <- replicate(26, sample(100), simplify = FALSE)
names(l) <- letters
microbenchmark::microbenchmark(
  as_data_frame(l),
  as.data.frame(l)
)
#> Unit: microseconds
#>              expr      min        lq   median        uq      max neval
#>  as_data_frame(l)  101.856  112.0615  124.855  143.0965  254.193   100
#>  as.data.frame(l) 1402.075 1466.6365 1511.644 1635.1205 3007.299   100

It’s difficult to precisely describe what as.data.frame(x) does, but it’s similar to do.call(cbind, lapply(x, data.frame)) – it coerces each component to a data frame and then cbind()s them all together.

The speed of as.data.frame() is not usually a bottleneck in interactive use, but can be a problem when combining thousands of lists into one tidy data frame (this is common when working with data stored in json or xml).

Binding rows and columns

dplyr now provides bind_rows() and bind_cols() for binding data frames together. Compared to rbind() and cbind(), the functions:

  • Accept either individual data frames, or a list of data frames:
    a <- data_frame(x = 1:5)
    b <- data_frame(x = 6:10)
    
    bind_rows(a, b)
    #> Source: local data frame [10 x 1]
    #> 
    #>    x
    #> 1  1
    #> 2  2
    #> 3  3
    #> 4  4
    #> 5  5
    #> .. .
    bind_rows(list(a, b))
    #> Source: local data frame [10 x 1]
    #> 
    #>    x
    #> 1  1
    #> 2  2
    #> 3  3
    #> 4  4
    #> 5  5
    #> .. .

    If x is a list of data frames, bind_rows(x) is equivalent to do.call(rbind, x).

  • Are much faster:
    dfs <- replicate(100, data_frame(x = runif(100)), simplify = FALSE)
    microbenchmark::microbenchmark(
      do.call("rbind", dfs),
      bind_rows(dfs)
    )
    #> Unit: microseconds
    #>                   expr      min        lq   median        uq       max
    #>  do.call("rbind", dfs) 5344.660 6605.3805 6964.236 7693.8465 43457.061
    #>         bind_rows(dfs)  240.342  262.0845  317.582  346.6465  2345.832
    #>  neval
    #>    100
    #>    100

(Generally you should avoid bind_cols() in favour of a join; otherwise check carefully that the rows are in a compatible order).

List-variables

Data frames are usually made up of a list of atomic vectors that all have the same length. However, it’s also possible to have a variable that’s a list, which I call a list-variable. Because of data.frame()s complex coercion rules, the easiest way to create a data frame containing a list-column is with data_frame():

data_frame(x = 1, y = list(1), z = list(list(1:5, "a", "b")))
#> Source: local data frame [1 x 3]
#> 
#>   x        y         z
#> 1 1 <dbl[1]> <list[3]>

Note how list-variables are printed: a list-variable could contain a lot of data, so dplyr only shows a brief summary of the contents. List-variables are useful for:

  • Working with summary functions that return more than one value:
    qs <- mtcars %>%
      group_by(cyl) %>%
      summarise(y = list(quantile(mpg)))
    
    # Unnest input to collpase into rows
    qs %>% tidyr::unnest(y)
    #> Source: local data frame [15 x 2]
    #> 
    #>    cyl    y
    #> 1    4 21.4
    #> 2    4 22.8
    #> 3    4 26.0
    #> 4    4 30.4
    #> 5    4 33.9
    #> .. ...  ...
    
    # To extract individual elements into columns, wrap the result in rowwise()
    # then use summarise()
    qs %>% 
      rowwise() %>% 
      summarise(q25 = y[2], q75 = y[4])
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 2]
    #> 
    #>     q25   q75
    #> 1 22.80 30.40
    #> 2 18.65 21.00
    #> 3 14.40 16.25
  • Keeping associated data frames and models together:
    by_cyl <- split(mtcars, mtcars$cyl)
    models <- lapply(by_cyl, lm, formula = mpg ~ wt)
    
    data_frame(cyl = c(4, 6, 8), data = by_cyl, model = models)
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 3]
    #> 
    #>   cyl            data   model
    #> 1   4 <S3:data.frame> <S3:lm>
    #> 2   6 <S3:data.frame> <S3:lm>
    #> 3   8 <S3:data.frame> <S3:lm>

dplyr’s support for list-variables continues to mature. In 0.4.0, you can join and row bind list-variables and you can create them in summarise and mutate.

My vision of list-variables is still partial and incomplete, but I’m convinced that they will make pipeable APIs for modelling much eaiser. See the draft lowliner package for more explorations in this direction.

Bonus

My colleague, Garrett, helped me make a cheat sheet that summarizes the data wrangling features of dplyr 0.4.0. You can download it from RStudio’s new gallery of R cheat sheets.

Data wrangling cheatsheet

Jeroen Ooms and I are very pleased to announce a new version of RMySQL, the R package that allows you to talk to MySQL (and MariaDB) databases. We have taken over maintenance from Jeffrey Horner, who has done a great job of maintaining the package of the last few years, but no longer has time to look after it. Thanks for all your hard work Jeff!

Using RMySQL

library(DBI)

# Connect to a public database that I'm running on Google's 
# cloud SQL service. It contains a copy of the data in the
# datasets package.
con <-  dbConnect(RMySQL::MySQL(), 
  username = "public", 
  password = "F60RUsyiG579PeKdCH",
  host = "173.194.227.144", 
  port = 3306, 
  dbname = "datasets"
)

# Run a query
dbGetQuery(con, "SELECT * FROM mtcars WHERE cyl = 4 AND mpg < 23")
#>       row_names  mpg cyl  disp  hp drat    wt  qsec vs am gear carb
#> 1    Datsun 710 22.8   4 108.0  93 3.85 2.320 18.61  1  1    4    1
#> 2      Merc 230 22.8   4 140.8  95 3.92 3.150 22.90  1  0    4    2
#> 3 Toyota Corona 21.5   4 120.1  97 3.70 2.465 20.01  1  0    3    1
#> 4    Volvo 142E 21.4   4 121.0 109 4.11 2.780 18.60  1  1    4    2

# It's polite to let the database know when you're done
dbDisconnect(con)
#> [1] TRUE

It’s generally a bad idea to put passwords in your code, so instead of typing them directly, you can create a file called ~/.my.cnf that contains

[cloudSQL]
username=public
password=F60RUsyiG579PeKdCH
host=173.194.227.144
port=3306
database=datasets

Then you can connect with:

con <-  dbConnect(RMySQL::MySQL(), group = "cloudSQL")

Changes in this release

RMySQL 0.10.0 is mostly a cleanup release. RMySQL is one of the oldest packages on CRAN, and according to the timestamps, it is older than many recommended packages, and only slightly younger than MASS! That explains why a facelift was well overdue.

The most important change is an improvement to the build process so that CRAN binaries are now available for Windows and OS X Mavericks. This should make your life much easier if you’re on one of these platforms. We’d love your feedback on the new build scripts. There have been many problems in the past, so we’d like to know that this client works well across platforms and versions of MySQL server.

Otherwise, the changes update RMySQL for DBI 0.3 compatibility:

  • Internal mysql*() functions are no longer exported. Please use the corresponding DBI generics instead.
  • RMySQL gains transaction support with dbBegin(), dbCommit(), and dbRollback(). (But note that MySQL does not allow data definition language statements to be rolled back.)
  • Added method for dbFetch(). Please use this instead of fetch(). dbFetch() now returns a 0-row data frame (instead of an 0-col data frame) if there are no results.
  • Added methods for dbIsValid(). Please use these instead of isIdCurrent().
  • dbWriteTable() has been rewritten. It uses a better quoting strategy, throws errors on failure, and only automatically adds row names only if they’re strings. (NB: dbWriteTable() also has a method that allows you load files directly from disk – this is likely to be faster if your file is one of the formats supported.)

For a complete list of changes, please see the full release notes.

ggplot2 1.0.0

As you might have noticed, ggplot2 recently turned 1.0.0. This release incorporated a handful of new features and bug fixes, but most importantly reflects that ggplot2 is now a mature plotting system and it will not change significantly in the future.

This does not mean ggplot2 is dead! The ggplot2 community is rich and vibrant and the number of packages that build on top of ggplot2 continues to grow. We are committed to maintaining ggplot2 so that you can continue to rely on it for years to come.

The ggplot2 book

Since ggplot2 is now stable, and the ggplot2 book is over five years old and rather out of date, I’m also happy to announce that I’m working on a second edition. I’ll be ably assisted in this endeavour by Carson Sievert, who’s so far done a great job of converting the source to Rmd and updating many of the examples to work with ggplot2 1.0.0. In the coming months we’ll be rewriting the data chapter to reflect modern best practices (e.g. tidyr and dplyr), and adding sections about new features.

We’d love your help! The source code for the book is available on github. If you’ve spotted any mistakes in the first edition that you’d like to correct, we’d really appreciate a pull request. If there’s a particular section of the book that you think needs an update (or is just plain missing), please let us know by filing an issue. Unfortunately we can’t turn the book into a free website because of my agreement with the publisher, but at least you can now get easily get to the source.

httr 0.6.0 is now available on CRAN. The httr packages makes it easy to talk to web APIs from R. Learn more in the quick start vignette.

This release is mostly bug fixes and minor improvements. The most important are:

  • handle_reset(), which allows you to reset the default handle if you get the error “easy handle already used in multi handle”.
  • write_stream() which lets you process the response from a server as a stream of raw vectors (#143).
  • VERB() allows to you send a request with a custom http verb.
  • brew_dr() checks for common problems. It currently checks if your libcurl uses NSS. This is unlikely to work so it gives you some advice on how to fix the problem (thanks to Dirk Eddelbuettel for debugging this problem and suggesting a remedy).
  • Added support for Google OAuth2 service accounts. (#119, thanks to help from @siddharthab). See ?oauth_service_token for details.

I’ve also switched from RC to R6 (which should make it easier to extend OAuth classes for non-standard OAuth implementations), and tweaked the use of the backend SSL certificate details bundled with httr. See the release notes for complete details.

tidyr 0.2.0 is now available on CRAN. tidyr makes it easy to “tidy” your data, storing it in a consistent form so that it’s easy to manipulate, visualise and model. Tidy data has variables in columns and observations in rows, and is described in more detail in the tidy data vignette. Install tidyr with:

install.packages("tidyr")

There are three important additions to tidyr 0.2.0:

  • expand() is a wrapper around expand.grid() that allows you to generate all possible combinations of two or more variables. In conjunction with dplyr::left_join(), this makes it easy to fill in missing rows of data.
    sales <- dplyr::data_frame(
      year = rep(c(2012, 2013), c(4, 2)),
      quarter = c(1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3), 
      sales = sample(6) * 100
    )
    
    # Missing sales data for 2013 Q1 & Q4
    sales
    #> Source: local data frame [6 x 3]
    #> 
    #>   year quarter sales
    #> 1 2012       1   400
    #> 2 2012       2   200
    #> 3 2012       3   500
    #> 4 2012       4   600
    #> 5 2013       2   300
    #> 6 2013       3   100
    
    # Missing values are now explicit
    sales %>% 
      expand(year, quarter) %>%
      dplyr::left_join(sales)
    #> Joining by: c("year", "quarter")
    #> Source: local data frame [8 x 3]
    #> 
    #>   year quarter sales
    #> 1 2012       1   400
    #> 2 2012       2   200
    #> 3 2012       3   500
    #> 4 2012       4   600
    #> 5 2013       1    NA
    #> 6 2013       2   300
    #> 7 2013       3   100
    #> 8 2013       4    NA
  • In the process of data tidying, it’s sometimes useful to have a column of a data frame that is a list of vectors. unnest() lets you simplify that column back down to an atomic vector, duplicating the original rows as needed. (NB: If you’re working with data frames containing lists, I highly recommend using dplyr’s tbl_df, which will display list-columns in a way that makes their structure more clear. Use dplyr::data_frame() to create a data frame wrapped with the tbl_df class.)
    raw <- dplyr::data_frame(
      x = 1:3,
      y = c("a", "d,e,f", "g,h")
    )
    # y is character vector containing comma separated strings
    raw
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 2]
    #> 
    #>   x     y
    #> 1 1     a
    #> 2 2 d,e,f
    #> 3 3   g,h
    
    # y is a list of character vectors
    as_list <- raw %>% mutate(y = strsplit(y, ","))
    as_list
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 2]
    #> 
    #>   x        y
    #> 1 1 <chr[1]>
    #> 2 2 <chr[3]>
    #> 3 3 <chr[2]>
    
    # y is a character vector; rows are duplicated as needed
    as_list %>% unnest(y)
    #> Source: local data frame [6 x 2]
    #> 
    #>   x y
    #> 1 1 a
    #> 2 2 d
    #> 3 2 e
    #> 4 2 f
    #> 5 3 g
    #> 6 3 h
  • separate() has a new extra argument that allows you to control what happens if a column doesn’t always split into the same number of pieces.
    raw %>% separate(y, c("trt", "B"), ",")
    #> Error: Values not split into 2 pieces at 1, 2
    raw %>% separate(y, c("trt", "B"), ",", extra = "drop")
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 3]
    #> 
    #>   x trt  B
    #> 1 1   a NA
    #> 2 2   d  e
    #> 3 3   g  h
    raw %>% separate(y, c("trt", "B"), ",", extra = "merge")
    #> Source: local data frame [3 x 3]
    #> 
    #>   x trt   B
    #> 1 1   a  NA
    #> 2 2   d e,f
    #> 3 3   g   h

To read about the other minor changes and bug fixes, please consult the release notes.

reshape2 1.4.1

There’s also a new version of reshape2, 1.4.1. It includes three bug fixes for melt.data.frame() contributed by Kevin Ushey. Read all about them on the release notes and install it with:

install.packages("reshape2")

(Posted on behalf of Stefan Milton Bache)

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference. For me, the introduction of our awkward looking friend, %>%, was one such little thing. I’d never suspected that it would have such an impact on the way quite a few people think and write R (including my own), or that pies would be baked (see here) and t-shirts printed (e.g. here) in honor of the successful three-char-long and slightly overweight operator. Of course a big part of the success is the very fruitful relationship with dplyr and its powerful verbs.

Quite some time went by without any changes to the CRAN version of magrittr. But many ideas have been evaluated and tested, and now we are happy to finally bring an update which brings both some optimization and a few nifty features — we hope that we have managed to strike a balance between simplicity and usefulness and that you will benefit from this update. You can install it now with:

install.packages("magrittr")

The underlying evaluation model is more coherent in this release; this makes the new features more natural extensions and improves performance somewhat. Below I’ll recap some of the important new features, which include functional sequences, a few specialized supplementary operators and better lambda syntax.

Functional sequences

The basic (pseudo) usage of the pipe operator goes something like this:

awesome_data <-
  raw_interesting_data %>%
  transform(somehow) %>%
  filter(the_good_parts) %>%
  finalize

This statement has three parts: an input, an output, and a sequence transformations. That’s suprisingly close to the definition of a function, so in magrittr is really just a convenient way of of defining and applying a function.
A new really useful feature of magrittr 1.5 makes that explicit: you can use %>% to not only produce values but also to produce functions (or functional sequences)! It’s really all the same, except sometimes the function is applied instantly and produces a result, and sometimes it is not, in which case the function itself is returned. In this case, there is no initial value, so we replace that with the dot placeholder. Here is how:

mae <- . %>% abs %>% mean(na.rm = TRUE)
mae(rnorm(10))
#> [1] 0.5605

That’s equivalent to:

mae <- function(x) {
  mean(abs(x), na.rm = TRUE)
}

Even for a short function, this is more compact, and is easier to read as it is defined linearly from left to right.
There are some really cool use cases for this: functionals! Consider how clean it is to pass a function to lapply or aggregate!

info <-
  files %>%
  lapply(. %>% read_file %>% extract(the_goodies))

Functions made this way can be indexed with [ to get a new function containing only a subset of the steps.

Lambda expressions

The new version makes it clearer that each step is really just a single-statement body of a unary function. What if we need a little more than one command to make a satisfactory “step” in a chain? Before, one might either define a function outside the chain, or even anonymously inside the chain, enclosing the entire definition in parentheses. Now extending that one command is like extending a standard one-command function: enclose whatever you’d like in braces, and that’s it:

value %>%
  foo %>% {
    x <- bar(.)
    y <- baz(.)
    x * y
  } %>%
  and_whatever

As usual, the name of the argument to that unary function is ..

Nested function calls

In this release the dot (.) will work also in nested function calls on the right-hand side, e.g.:

1:5 %>% 
  paste(letters[.])
#> [1] "1 a" "2 b" "3 c" "4 d" "5 e"

When you use . inside a function call, it’s used in addition to, not instead of, . at the top-level. For example, the previous command is equivalent to:

1:5 %>% 
  paste(., letters[.])
#> [1] "1 a" "2 b" "3 c" "4 d" "5 e"

If you don’t want this behaviour, wrap the function call in {:

1:5 %>% {
  paste(letters[.])
}
#> [1] "a" "b" "c" "d" "e"

A few of %>%’s friends

We also introduce a few operators. These are supplementary operators that just make some situations more comfortable.
The tee operator, %T>%, enables temporary branching in a pipeline to apply a few side-effect commands to the current value, like plotting or logging, and is inspired by the Unix tee command. The only difference to %>% is that %T>% returns the left-hand side rather than the result of applying the right-hand side:

value %>%
  transform %T>%
  plot %>%
  transform(even_more)

This is a shortcut for:

value %>%
  transform %>%
  { plot(.); . } %>%
  transform(even_more)

because plot() doesn’t normally return anything that can be piped along!
The exposition operator, %$%, is a wrapper around with(),
which makes it easy to refer to the variables inside a data frame:

mtcars %$%
  plot(mpg, wt)

Finally, we also have %<>%, the compound assignment pipe operator. This must be the first operator in the chain, and it will assign the result of the pipeline to the left-hand side name or expression. It’s purpose is to shorten expressions like this:

data$some_variable <-
  data$some_variable %>%
  transform

and turn them into something like this:

data$some_variable %<>%
  transform

Even a small example like x %<>% sort has its appeal!
In summary there is a few new things to get to know; but magrittr is like it always was. Just a little coolr!

rvest is new package that makes it easy to scrape (or harvest) data from html web pages, inspired by libraries like beautiful soup. It is designed to work with magrittr so that you can express complex operations as elegant pipelines composed of simple, easily understood pieces. Install it with:

install.packages("rvest")

rvest in action

To see rvest in action, imagine we’d like to scrape some information about The Lego Movie from IMDB. We start by downloading and parsing the file with html():

library(rvest)
lego_movie <- html("http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1490017/")

To extract the rating, we start with selectorgadget to figure out which css selector matches the data we want: strong span. (If you haven’t heard of selectorgadget, make sure to read vignette("selectorgadget") – it’s the easiest way to determine which selector extracts the data that you’re interested in.) We use html_node() to find the first node that matches that selector, extract its contents with html_text(), and convert it to numeric with as.numeric():

lego_movie %>% 
  html_node("strong span") %>%
  html_text() %>%
  as.numeric()
#> [1] 7.9

We use a similar process to extract the cast, using html_nodes() to find all nodes that match the selector:

lego_movie %>%
  html_nodes("#titleCast .itemprop span") %>%
  html_text()
#>  [1] "Will Arnett"     "Elizabeth Banks" "Craig Berry"    
#>  [4] "Alison Brie"     "David Burrows"   "Anthony Daniels"
#>  [7] "Charlie Day"     "Amanda Farinos"  "Keith Ferguson" 
#> [10] "Will Ferrell"    "Will Forte"      "Dave Franco"    
#> [13] "Morgan Freeman"  "Todd Hansen"     "Jonah Hill"

The titles and authors of recent message board postings are stored in a the third table on the page. We can use html_node() and [[ to find it, then coerce it to a data frame with html_table():

lego_movie %>%
  html_nodes("table") %>%
  .[[3]] %>%
  html_table()
#>                                              X 1            NA
#> 1 this movie is very very deep and philosophical   mrdoctor524
#> 2 This got an 8.0 and Wizard of Oz got an 8.1...  marr-justinm
#> 3                         Discouraging Building?       Laestig
#> 4                              LEGO - the plural      neil-476
#> 5                                 Academy Awards   browncoatjw
#> 6                    what was the funniest part? actionjacksin

Other important functions

  • If you prefer, you can use xpath selectors instead of css: html_nodes(doc, xpath = "//table//td")).

  • Extract the tag names with html_tag(), text with html_text(), a single attribute with html_attr() or all attributes with html_attrs().

  • Detect and repair text encoding problems with guess_encoding() and repair_encoding().

  • Navigate around a website as if you’re in a browser with html_session(), jump_to(), follow_link(), back(), and forward(). Extract, modify and submit forms with html_form(), set_values() and submit_form(). (This is still a work in progress, so I’d love your feedback.)

To see these functions in action, check out package demos with demo(package = "rvest").

I’m very pleased to announce a new version of RSQLite 1.0.0. RSQLite is the easiest way to use SQL database from R:

library(DBI)
# Create an ephemeral in-memory RSQLite database
con <- dbConnect(RSQLite::SQLite(), ":memory:")
# Copy in the buit-in mtcars data frame
dbWriteTable(con, "mtcars", mtcars, row.names = FALSE)
#> [1] TRUE

# Fetch all results from a query:
res <- dbSendQuery(con, "SELECT * FROM mtcars WHERE cyl = 4 AND mpg < 23")
dbFetch(res)
#>    mpg cyl  disp  hp drat    wt  qsec vs am gear carb
#> 1 22.8   4 108.0  93 3.85 2.320 18.61  1  1    4    1
#> 2 22.8   4 140.8  95 3.92 3.150 22.90  1  0    4    2
#> 3 21.5   4 120.1  97 3.70 2.465 20.01  1  0    3    1
#> 4 21.4   4 121.0 109 4.11 2.780 18.60  1  1    4    2
dbClearResult(res)
#> [1] TRUE

# Or fetch them a chunk at a time
res <- dbSendQuery(con, "SELECT * FROM mtcars WHERE cyl = 4")
while(!dbHasCompleted(res)){
  chunk <- dbFetch(res, n = 10)
  print(nrow(chunk))
}
#> [1] 10
#> [1] 1
dbClearResult(res)
#> [1] TRUE

# Good practice to disconnect from the database when you're done
dbDisconnect(con)
#> [1] TRUE

RSQLite 1.0.0 is mostly a cleanup release. This means a lot of old functions have been deprecated and removed:

  • idIsValid() is deprecated; use dbIsValid() instead. dbBeginTransaction() is deprecated; use dbBegin() instead. Use dbFetch() instead of fetch().
  • dbBuildTableDefinition() is now sqliteBuildTableDefinition() (to avoid implying that it’s a DBI generic).
  • Internal sqlite*() functions are no longer exported (#20). safe.write() is no longer exported.

It also includes a few minor improvements and bug fixes. The most important are:

  • Inlined RSQLite.extfuns – use initExtension() to load the many useful extension functions.
  • Methods no longer automatically clone the connection is there is an open result set. This was implemented inconsistently in a handful of places. RSQLite is now more forgiving if you forget to close a result set – it will close it for you, with a warning. It’s still good practice to clean up after yourself with dbClearResults(), but you don’t have to.
  • dbBegin(), dbCommit() and dbRollback() throw errors on failure, rather than returning FALSE. They all gain a name argument to specify named savepoints.
  • dbWriteTable() has been rewritten. It uses a better quoting strategy, throws errors on failure, and only automatically adds row names only if they’re strings. (NB: dbWriteTable() also has a method that allows you load files directly from disk.)

For a complete list of changes, please see the full release notes.

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