callr v1.0.0

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Call R from R

It is sometimes useful to perform a computation in a separate R process, without affecting the current R process at all. This packages does exactly that.

Readme

callr

Call R from R

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It is sometimes useful to perform a computation in a separate R process, without affecting the current R process at all. This packages does exactly that.


Installation

source("https://install-github.me/MangoTheCat/callr")

Usage

Introduction

Use r to run an R function in a new child process. The results are passed back seemlessly:

r(function() var(iris[, 1:4]))

#>              Sepal.Length Sepal.Width Petal.Length Petal.Width
#> Sepal.Length    0.6856935  -0.0424340    1.2743154   0.5162707
#> Sepal.Width    -0.0424340   0.1899794   -0.3296564  -0.1216394
#> Petal.Length    1.2743154  -0.3296564    3.1162779   1.2956094
#> Petal.Width     0.5162707  -0.1216394    1.2956094   0.5810063

Passing arguments

You can pass arguments to the function, just set args to the list of arguments. This is often necessary as these arguments are explicitly passed to the child process, whereas the evaluated function cannot refer to variables in the parent. For the example the following does not work:

mycars <- cars
r(function() summary(mycars))

#> Error in summary(mycars) (from internal.R#90) : object 'mycars' not found

But this does:

r(function(x) summary(x), args = list(mycars))

#>     speed           dist
#> Min.   : 4.0   Min.   :  2.00
#> 1st Qu.:12.0   1st Qu.: 26.00
#> Median :15.0   Median : 36.00
#> Mean   :15.4   Mean   : 42.98
#> 3rd Qu.:19.0   3rd Qu.: 56.00
#> Max.   :25.0   Max.   :120.00

Note that the arguments will be serialized and save to a file, so if they are large R objects, then it might take a long time for the child process to start up.

Using packages

You can use any R package in the child process, just make sure that you refer to it explicitly with the :: operator. For example the following code creates an igraph graph in the child, and calculates some metrics of it.

r(function() { g <- igraph::sample_gnp(1000, 4/1000); igraph::diameter(g) })

#> 12

Error handling

callr provides three ways to handle errors that happen in the child process. The default is to forward any errors to the parent:

r(function() 1 + "A")
#> Error in 1 + "A" : non-numeric argument to binary operator

You can catch these error on the parent, but the context is of course lost. To get the context, you need to specify the error = "stack" option. This copies the whole stack to the parent on an error. The stack is part of the error object thrown on the parent, and you can catch it with tryCatch, and examine it. Here is an example:

tryCatch(
  r(function() { f <- function() g(); g <- function() 1 + "A"; f() },
    error = "stack"),
  error = function(e) print(e$stack)
)

#> $`(function () \n{\n    f <- function() g()\n    g <- function() 1 + "A"\n    f()`
#> <environment: 0x7fc1e4b61e08>
#>
#> $`#2: f()`
#> <environment: 0x7fc1e4b62150>
#>
#> $`#2: g()`
#> <environment: 0x7fc1e4b62188>
#>
#> attr(,"error.message")
#> [1] "non-numeric argument to binary operator"
#> attr(,"class")
#> [1] "dump.frames"

The third possible value for error is "debugger" which starts a debugger (see ?debugger in the call stack returned from the child:

r(function() { f <- function() g(); g <- function() 1 + "A"; f() },
  error = "debugger")

#> Message:  non-numeric argument to binary operator
#> Available environments had calls:
#> 1: (function ()
#> {
#>     f <- function() g()
#>     g <- function() 1 + "A"
#>     f()
#> 2: #1: f()
#> 3: #1: g()
#>
#> Enter an environment number, or 0 to exit  Selection:

Standard output and error

By default the standard output and error of the child is lost, but you can request callr to redirect them to files, and then inspect the files in the parent:

x <- r(function() { print("hello world!"); message("hello again!") },
  stdout = "/tmp/out", stderr = "/tmp/err"
)
readLines("/tmp/out")

#> [1] "[1] \"hello world!\""

readLines("/tmp/err")

#> [1] "hello again!"

Showing progress

With the stdout option, the standard output is collected and can be examined once the child process finished. The show = TRUE options will also show the output of the child, as it is printed, on the console of the parent.

Tips

It is good practice to create an anonymous function for the r() call, instead of passing a function from a package to r() directly. This is because callr resets the environment of the function, and some functions will not work then. Here is an example:

r(praise::praise)

#> Error: could not find function "is_template"

But with an anonymous function this works fine:

r(function() praise::praise())

#> [1] "You are outstanding!"

R CMD <command>

The rcmd() function calls an R CMD command. For example you can call R CMD INSTALL, R CMD check or R CMD config this way:

rcmd("config", "CC")

#>$stdout
#>[1] "clang\n"
#>
#>$stderr
#>[1] ""
#>
#>$status
#>[1] 0

It returns a list with three components: the standard output, the standard error and the exit (status) code of the R CMD command.

License

MIT © Mango Solutions

Functions in callr

Name Description
r_vanilla Run an R child process, with no configuration
callr Call R from R
rcmd Run an R CMD command
r Evaluate an expression in another R session
r_safe Run an R child process in safe mode
rcmd_safe Call R CMD <command> safely
get_result Read the result object from the output file, or the error
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Details

License MIT + file LICENSE
LazyData true
URL https://github.com/MangoTheCat/callr
BugReports https://github.com/MangoTheCat/callr/issues
RoxygenNote 5.0.1.9000
Encoding UTF-8
NeedsCompilation no
Packaged 2016-06-17 21:09:31 UTC; gaborcsardi
Repository CRAN
Date/Publication 2016-06-18 15:24:15

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