[R] The Future of R | API to Public Databases

MacQueen, Don macqueen1 at llnl.gov
Fri Jan 13 23:26:52 CET 2012

It's a nice idea, but I wouldn't be optimistic about it happening:

Each of these public databases no doubt has its own more or less unique
API, and the people likely to know the API well enough to write R code to
access any particular database will be specialists in that field. They
likely won't know much if anything about other public databases. The
likelihood of a group forming to develop ** and maintain ** a single R
package to access the no-doubt huge variety of public databases strikes me
as small.

However, this looks like a great opportunity for a new CRAN Task View. The
task view would simply identify which packages connect to which public
databases. (sorry, I can't volunteer)


I can mention openair as a package that has tools to access public

Don MacQueen

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
7000 East Ave., L-627
Livermore, CA 94550

On 1/13/12 2:12 PM, "MK" <mkao006rmail at gmail.com> wrote:

>The WDI package on CRAN already provide access to the World Bank data
>through their API, we also have an inhouse package for FAOSTAT here at
>FAO but it is not mature enough to be released on CRAN yet.
>Not sure about other international organisations but I do agree that it
>would be nice if there is a package which would make these data more
>readily to R users.
>On 13/01/12 22:58, Sarah Goslee wrote:
>> R is Open Source. You're welcome to write tools, and submit your
>> package to CRAN. I think some part of this has been done, based
>> on questions to the list asking about those parts.
>> Personally, I've been using S-Plus and then R for 18 years, and never
>> required data from any of them. Which doesn't make it not important,
>> but suggests that public databases aren't the be-all and end-all for
>> R use.
>> Sarah
>> On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM, Benjamin Weber<mail at bwe.im>  wrote:
>>> Dear R Users -
>>> R is a wonderful software package. CRAN provides a variety of tools to
>>> work on your data. But R is not apt to utilize all the public
>>> databases in an efficient manner.
>>> I observed the most tedious part with R is searching and downloading
>>> the data from public databases and putting it into the right format. I
>>> could not find a package on CRAN which offers exactly this fundamental
>>> capability.
>>> Imagine R is the unified interface to access (and analyze) all public
>>> data in the easiest way possible. That would create a real impact,
>>> would put R a big leap forward and would enable us to see the world
>>> with different eyes.
>>> There is a lack of a direct connection to the API of these databases,
>>> to name a few:
>>> - Eurostat
>>> - OECD
>>> - IMF
>>> - Worldbank
>>> - UN
>>> - FAO
>>> - data.gov
>>> - ...
>>> The ease of access to the data is the key of information processing
>>>with R.
>>> How can we handle the flow of information noise? R has to give an
>>> answer to that with an extensive API to public databases.
>>> I would love your comments and ideas as a contribution in a vital
>>> Benjamin
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