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Cryptic error from install_github() if reference doesn't exist #1204

jennybc opened this Issue Jun 3, 2016 · 2 comments


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jennybc commented Jun 3, 2016

If you try to install from github ref that doesn't exist, the error message can be pretty odd. Here's an attempt to install from a PR that has been closed and the underlying branch deleted.

#> Using GitHub PAT from envvar GITHUB_PAT
#> Using GitHub PAT from envvar GITHUB_PAT
#> Downloading GitHub repo rstudio/rmarkdown@feature/html-vignette-readme
#> from URL
#> No encoding supplied: defaulting to UTF-8.
#> Error: lexical error: invalid char in json text.
#>                                        Not Found
#>                      (right here) ------^

I get same message for a tag or SHA or branch that never existed, i.e., devtools::install_github("rstudio/rmarkdown@v5") or devtools::install_github("rstudio/rmarkdown@1234567") of devtools::install_github("rstudio/rmarkdown@nope").

But the error for a PR that never existed is different and is more informative.

#> Using GitHub PAT from envvar GITHUB_PAT
#> condition in stop(github_error(req)): Not Found (404)
#> *

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jimhester commented Jun 6, 2016

GitHub returns a regular HTTP response in the first case, whereas in the second it returns a JSON response. Devtools is always expecting a JSON response, which is why you got the confusing error.

#1211 tries to parse the response as JSON, if it fails it treats the response content as a message which cleans up this issue.

download_github(tempfile(), "")
#> Error in stop(github_error(request)) : Not Found (404)

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This old issue has been automatically locked. If you believe you have found a related problem, please file a new issue (with reprex) and link to this issue.

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