The pins package helps you publish data sets, models, and other R objects, making it easy to share them across projects and with your colleagues. You can pin objects to a variety of “boards”, including local folders (to share on a networked drive or with dropbox), Posit Connect, Amazon S3, and more. This vignette will introduce you to the basics of pins.
Every pin lives in a pin board, so you must start by creating a pin board. In this vignette I’ll use a temporary board which is automatically deleted when your R session is over:
In real-life, you’d pick a board depending on how you want to share the data. Here are a few options:
<- board_local() # share data across R sessions on the same computer board <- board_folder("~/Dropbox") # share data with others using dropbox board <- board_folder("Z:\\my-team\pins") # share data using a shared network drive board <- board_connect() # share data with Posit Connectboard
Once you have a pin board, you can write data to it with
<- tibble::as_tibble(mtcars) mtcars %>% pin_write(mtcars, "mtcars") board #> Guessing `type = 'rds'` #> Creating new version '20230517T161739Z-cc5fd' #> Writing to pin 'mtcars'
The first argument is the object to save (usually a data frame, but it can be any R object), and the second argument gives the “name” of the pin. The name is basically equivalent to a file name: you’ll use it when you later want to read the data from the pin. The only rule for a pin name is that it can’t contain slashes.
As you can see from the output, pins has chosen to save this data to
.rds file. But you can choose another option depending
on your goals:
type = "rds"uses
writeRDS()to create a binary R data file. It can save any R object (including trained models) but it’s only readable from R, not other languages.
type = "csv"uses
write.csv()to create a CSV file. CSVs are plain text and can be read easily by many applications, but they only support simple columns (e.g. numbers, strings), can take up a lot of disk space, and can be slow to read.
type = "parquet"uses
arrow::write_parquet()to create a Parquet file. Parquet is a modern, language-independent, column-oriented file format for efficient data storage and retrieval. Parquet is an excellent choice for storing tabular data but requires the arrow package.
type = "arrow"uses
arrow::write_feather()to create an Arrow/Feather file.
type = "json"uses
jsonlite::write_json()to create a JSON file. Pretty much every programming language can read json files, but they only work well for nested lists.
type = "qs"uses
qs::qsave()to create a binary R data file, like
writeRDS(). This format achieves faster read/write speeds than RDS, and compresses data more efficiently, making it a good choice for larger objects. Read more on the qs package.
After you’ve pinned an object, you can read it back with
%>% pin_read("mtcars") board #> # A tibble: 32 × 11 #> mpg cyl disp hp drat wt qsec vs am gear carb #> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> #> 1 21 6 160 110 3.9 2.62 16.5 0 1 4 4 #> 2 21 6 160 110 3.9 2.88 17.0 0 1 4 4 #> 3 22.8 4 108 93 3.85 2.32 18.6 1 1 4 1 #> 4 21.4 6 258 110 3.08 3.22 19.4 1 0 3 1 #> 5 18.7 8 360 175 3.15 3.44 17.0 0 0 3 2 #> 6 18.1 6 225 105 2.76 3.46 20.2 1 0 3 1 #> 7 14.3 8 360 245 3.21 3.57 15.8 0 0 3 4 #> 8 24.4 4 147. 62 3.69 3.19 20 1 0 4 2 #> 9 22.8 4 141. 95 3.92 3.15 22.9 1 0 4 2 #> 10 19.2 6 168. 123 3.92 3.44 18.3 1 0 4 4 #> # ℹ 22 more rows
You don’t need to supply the file type when reading data from a pin because pins automatically stores the file type in the metadata, the topic of the next section.
Note that when the data lives elsewhere, pins takes care of downloading and caching so that it’s only re-downloaded when needed. That said, most boards transmit pins over HTTP, and this is going to be slow and possibly unreliable for very large pins. As a general rule of thumb, we don’t recommend using pins with files over 500 MB. If you find yourself routinely pinning data larger that this, you might need to reconsider your data engineering pipeline.
Every pin is accompanied by some metadata that you can access with
%>% pin_meta("mtcars") board #> List of 12 #> $ file : chr "mtcars.rds" #> $ file_size : 'fs_bytes' int 901 #> $ pin_hash : chr "cc5fd9be7cfd1855" #> $ type : chr "rds" #> $ title : chr "mtcars: a pinned 32 x 11 data frame" #> $ description: NULL #> $ tags : NULL #> $ created : POSIXct[1:1], format: "2023-05-17 10:17:39" #> $ api_version: int 1 #> $ user : list() #> $ name : chr "mtcars" #> $ local :List of 3 #> ..$ dir : 'fs_path' chr "/var/folders/hv/hzsmmyk9393_m7q3nscx1slc0000gn/T/RtmptyhIle/pins-4d0e3de9433e/mtcars/20230517T161739Z-cc5fd" #> ..$ url : NULL #> ..$ version: chr "20230517T161739Z-cc5fd"
This shows you the metadata that’s generated by default. This includes:
title, a brief textual description of the
description, where you can provide more
the date-time when the pin was
file_size, in bytes, of the underlying
pin_hash that you can supply to
pin_read() to ensure that you’re reading exactly the data
that you expect.
When creating the pin, you can override the default description or provide additional metadata that is stored with the data:
%>% pin_write(mtcars, board description = "Data extracted from the 1974 Motor Trend US magazine, and comprises fuel consumption and 10 aspects of automobile design and performance for 32 automobiles (1973–74 models).", metadata = list( source = "Henderson and Velleman (1981), Building multiple regression models interactively. Biometrics, 37, 391–411." ) )#> Using `name = 'mtcars'` #> Guessing `type = 'rds'` #> ! The hash of pin "mtcars" has not changed. #> • Your pin will not be stored. %>% pin_meta("mtcars") board #> List of 12 #> $ file : chr "mtcars.rds" #> $ file_size : 'fs_bytes' int 901 #> $ pin_hash : chr "cc5fd9be7cfd1855" #> $ type : chr "rds" #> $ title : chr "mtcars: a pinned 32 x 11 data frame" #> $ description: NULL #> $ tags : NULL #> $ created : POSIXct[1:1], format: "2023-05-17 10:17:39" #> $ api_version: int 1 #> $ user : list() #> $ name : chr "mtcars" #> $ local :List of 3 #> ..$ dir : 'fs_path' chr "/var/folders/hv/hzsmmyk9393_m7q3nscx1slc0000gn/T/RtmptyhIle/pins-4d0e3de9433e/mtcars/20230517T161739Z-cc5fd" #> ..$ url : NULL #> ..$ version: chr "20230517T161739Z-cc5fd"
While we’ll do our best to keep the automatically generated metadata
consistent over time, I’d recommend manually capturing anything you
really care about in
In many situations it’s useful to version pins, so that writing to an existing pin does not replace the existing data, but instead adds a new copy. There are two ways to turn versioning on:
When you create a board you can turn versioning on for every pin in that board:
<- board_temp(versioned = TRUE)board2
When you write a pin, you can specifically request that versioning be turned on for that pin:
<- board_temp() board2 %>% pin_write(mtcars, versioned = TRUE)board2
Most boards have versioning on by default. The primary exception is
board_folder() since that stores data on your computer, and
there’s no automated way to clean up the data you’re saving.
Once you have turned versioning on, every
will create a new version:
<- board_temp(versioned = TRUE) board2 %>% pin_write(1:5, name = "x", type = "rds") board2 #> Creating new version '20230517T161740Z-806f5' #> Writing to pin 'x' %>% pin_write(2:6, name = "x", type = "rds") board2 #> Creating new version '20230517T161740Z-b01e5' #> Writing to pin 'x' %>% pin_write(3:7, name = "x", type = "rds") board2 #> Creating new version '20230517T161741Z-51b18' #> Writing to pin 'x'
You can list all the available versions with
%>% pin_versions("x") board2 #> # A tibble: 3 × 3 #> version created hash #> <chr> <dttm> <chr> #> 1 20230517T161740Z-806f5 2023-05-17 10:17:40 806f5 #> 2 20230517T161740Z-b01e5 2023-05-17 10:17:40 b01e5 #> 3 20230517T161741Z-51b18 2023-05-17 10:17:41 51b18
(Pins does not currently provide any tool to remove old versions, but this is likely to be implemented in the future.)
pin_read() will return the most recent
%>% pin_read("x") board2 #>  3 4 5 6 7
But you can request an older version by supplying the
%>% pin_read("x", version = "20210520T173110Z-49519")board2
So far we’ve focussed on
pin_read() which work with R objects. pins also provides
pin_download() which work with files on disk. You can use
them to share types of data that are otherwise unsupported by pins.
pin_upload() works like
instead of an R object you give it a vector of paths. I’ll start by
creating a few files in the temp directory:
<- file.path(tempdir(), c("mtcars.csv", "alphabet.txt")) paths write.csv(mtcars, paths[]) writeLines(letters, paths[])
Now I can upload those to the board:
%>% pin_upload(paths, "example") board #> Creating new version '20230517T161741Z-e9d42'
pin_download() returns a vector of paths:
%>% pin_download("example") board #>  "/var/folders/hv/hzsmmyk9393_m7q3nscx1slc0000gn/T/RtmptyhIle/pins-4d0e3de9433e/example/20230517T161741Z-e9d42/mtcars.csv" #>  "/var/folders/hv/hzsmmyk9393_m7q3nscx1slc0000gn/T/RtmptyhIle/pins-4d0e3de9433e/example/20230517T161741Z-e9d42/alphabet.txt"
It’s now your job to handle them. You should treat these paths as internal implementation details — never modify them and never save them for use outside of pins.
Note that you can’t
pin_read() something you pinned with
%>% pin_read("example") board #> Error in `object_read()`: #> ! Pin does not declare file type so can't be automatically read #> ℹ Retrieve uploaded paths with `pin_download()`
But you can
pin_download() something that you’ve pinned
%>% pin_download("mtcars") board #>  "/var/folders/hv/hzsmmyk9393_m7q3nscx1slc0000gn/T/RtmptyhIle/pins-4d0e3de9433e/mtcars/20230517T161739Z-cc5fd/mtcars.rds"
The primary purpose of pins is to make it easy to share data. But
pins is also designed to help you spend as little time as possible
pin_download() automatically cache remote pins: they
maintain a local copy of the data (so it’s fast) but always check that
it’s up-to-date (so your analysis doesn’t use stale data).
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take advantage of this feature for
any dataset on the internet? That’s the idea behind
board_url() — you can assemble your own board from
datasets, wherever they live on the internet. For example, this code
creates a board containing a single pin,
refers to some fun data I found on GitHub:
<- board_url(c( my_data "penguins" = "https://raw.githubusercontent.com/allisonhorst/palmerpenguins/master/inst/extdata/penguins_raw.csv" ))
You can read this data by combining
%>% my_data pin_download("penguins") %>% read.csv(check.names = FALSE) %>% ::as_tibble() tibble#> # A tibble: 344 × 17 #> studyName `Sample Number` Species Region Island Stage `Individual ID` #> <chr> <int> <chr> <chr> <chr> <chr> <chr> #> 1 PAL0708 1 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N1A1 #> 2 PAL0708 2 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N1A2 #> 3 PAL0708 3 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N2A1 #> 4 PAL0708 4 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N2A2 #> 5 PAL0708 5 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N3A1 #> 6 PAL0708 6 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N3A2 #> 7 PAL0708 7 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N4A1 #> 8 PAL0708 8 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N4A2 #> 9 PAL0708 9 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N5A1 #> 10 PAL0708 10 Adelie Penguin… Anvers Torge… Adul… N5A2 #> # ℹ 334 more rows #> # ℹ 10 more variables: `Clutch Completion` <chr>, `Date Egg` <chr>, #> # `Culmen Length (mm)` <dbl>, `Culmen Depth (mm)` <dbl>, #> # `Flipper Length (mm)` <int>, `Body Mass (g)` <int>, Sex <chr>, #> # `Delta 15 N (o/oo)` <dbl>, `Delta 13 C (o/oo)` <dbl>, Comments <chr>
board_url() requires a bit of work compared to using
download.file() or similar but it has a big payoff: the
data will only be re-downloaded when it changes.
Here I’m using
read.csv() to the reduce the
dependencies of the pins package. For real code I’d recommend using