📦 A high-level R interface for the box.com API
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README.md

boxr

Build Status Win Build Status Project Status: Active - The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed. cran version monthly_downloads

A lightweight, high-level R interface for the box.com API, standing on the shoulders of httr.

Installation

You can download boxr from CRAN, with

install.packages("boxr")

If you'd like to download the development version from GitHub, use

# install.packages("devtools")
devtools::install_github("brendan-r/boxr")

Usage

Basic Operations

Aside from file upload/download, boxr provides functions which mirror base R operations for local files.

  • box_dl(file_id) and box_ul(file = 'path/to/file') download and upload files, respectively
  • box_search() to query files & folders stored on box.com
  • box_read() read files straight into R (e.g. .csv or .xlsx files as data.frames)
  • box_write() write R objects to remotely hosted files
  • box_setwd()/box_getwd() get/set a default box folder
  • box_source() read and execute remote code
  • box_load()/box_save() for remote R workspaces
  • box_add_description() add text descriptions to your files on box.com

Directory wide Operations

Cloud storage services can complement version control systems for code, which aren't well suited to large binary files (e.g. databases, .RData, or heaps of pdfs). box explicitly versions binary files, keeping old ones, and making it easy fall back to an older copy.

boxr provides git style facilities to upload, download, and synchronize the contents of entire local and remote directories. At the time of writing, the box.com API does not support this directly, and so boxr recursively loops through directory structures.

Synch a whole directory!

  • box_push will update the remote directory with new/changed local files
  • box_fetch will update the local directory with new/changed remote files

These functions all have overwrite and delete parameters, which are set to FALSE by default.

Disclaimer: box.com is no replacement for a VCS/remote-database, and familiar verbs are no guarantee of expected behavior! Do check the function documentation before jumping in.

Piping

boxr's functions have been designed to be 'pipable'. Here's a little example:

library(boxr)
library(dplyr)
library(magrittr)

# 'nycflights13.json' is the same as nycflights13::flights, if you want to
# follow along at home

box_auth()

box_search("nycflights13.json") %>%                # Find a remote file
  box_read() %>%                                   # Download it as a data.frame
    group_by(origin, dest, month) %>%              #   Do some, er, cutting edge
    summarise(mu = mean(arr_delay), n = n()) %>%   #   analysis with dplyr!
  box_write("delay_summary.xlsx") %>%              # Convert to .xlsx, upload
  box_add_description("Check out these averages!") # Add a description to your file!

File/Folder IDs

Are how box.com identifies things. You can find them in an item's URL:

Finding file and folder ids

Getting set up

To use boxr, you need to enable API access for your box.com account. The process is slightly annoying. You only need to do it once - it takes around 2 minutes.

1. 'Create New App'

Go to https://app.box.com/developers/console, (when you are logged in) and click on the button 'Create New App', which will guide you through four screens to create your new app.

  • On the first, select Custom App and click 'Next'.
  • On the second, select Standard OAuth 2.0 (User Authentication) and click 'Next'
  • On the third, choose a unique name for your app, this can be anything and click 'Next'
  • The fourth screen should be a confirmation of successful creation, click 'View Your App'

Four steps

2. Set OAuth2 Parameters

'View Your App' will take you to the Box Developers Console and where you will be in the Configuration sub-menu by default. Scroll down to OAuth 2.0 Redirect URI and set it to http://localhost and be sure to click 'Save Changes'.

Set Redirect URI

Keep this browser window open because you will need the client_id and client_secret for the next steps back in R.

3. Connect boxr to your account

This means passing your client_id and client_secret to the box_auth function. These strings are not enough for someone to access your account maliciously. However, it's still a good idea to keep them safe, and out of any files or code which might be shared with others.

Run:

library(boxr)
box_auth()

And paste/type the client_id and client_secret when prompted. If these are valid, a browser window should open, for you to formally grant yourself access to your files at box.com.

4. And you're done

If box_auth() worked successfully, you won't need to do any of this again, and thanks to the magic of httr everything should just work. Your client_id and client_secret will be securely stored in your R environment variables, your hashed OAuth2.0 token will stored at ~/.boxr-oauth, .gitignore'd if necessary, and automatically refreshed when needed. If you would like to automatically authenticate each time the package is loaded, consider running box_auth_on_attach(TRUE).

Notes

Verbosity

boxr is by default rather verbose, printing status to the console with cat. This is 'rude' package behaviour, and may cause unwanted output if used in conjunction with the excellent knitr package.

To supress messages produced using cat, set boxr's verbose option with:

options(boxr.verbose = FALSE, boxr.progress = FALSE)

Alternatives

boxr aims to expedite data analysis/communication/distribution. Other ways to manipulate a box.com account include:

Managing your client id & secret

If you don't like the idea of typing credentials into your console, you can put them straight into ~/.Renviron yourself, prior to the R session:

BOX_CLIENT_ID="youridhere"
BOX_CLIENT_SECRET="yoursecrethere"

(Note the final blank line).

Contributing

Always very welcome! If you'd like to submit a pull request for a new feature, ideally it would be documented, come with an addtion to NEWS.md, and have a test or two. This project has a standard Code of Conduct.

Remote Usage (e.g. ssh / rstudio-server)

This proves tricky for the OAuth2.0 dance, as it relies on browser access. While not 'officially supported', it's possible to authenticate on a local machine to generate a cached token (by default, at ~/.boxr-oauth), and then copy the file over to the eqivalent location on the remote machine. boxr can then read the copied file during remote code execution.

Troubleshooting

Via GitHub issues, please. It's been a while since I've read the R mailing lists!

In General

If you run in to problems, first make sure that your credentials are correct, and that you're using the latest version of boxr. You can update boxr with:

install.packages("boxr")

Problems Authenticating

Sometimes an old token can cause problems during authentication. If you're sure that your client_id and client_secret are correct, but box_auth() isn't working, try the following in a fresh session:

install.packages("boxr") # Make sure you're using the latest version of boxr
library(boxr)            # Load it
box_fresh_auth()         # Delete the old token, and reauthenticate

This will delete the old token (by default stored at ~/.boxr-oauth), and start the auth process afresh. A browser window will open, and you'll be prompted to sign in to your box account to verify yourself.

License

The MIT License (MIT)

Copyright (c) 2015-2017 boxr contributors

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.