RestRserve-package: RestRserve: A Framework for Building HTTP API

RestRserve-packageR Documentation

RestRserve: A Framework for Building HTTP API



Allows to easily create high-performance full featured HTTP APIs from R functions. Provides high-level classes such as 'Request', 'Response', 'Application', 'Middleware' in order to streamline server side application development. Out of the box allows to serve requests using 'Rserve' package, but flexible enough to integrate with other HTTP servers such as 'httpuv'.



Suppose you’ve developed a very useful algorithm or statistical model and you need to integrate it with some external system. Nowadays HTTP became de facto a lingua-franca for this kind of tasks.

In this article we will demonstrate how to use RestRserve to build a basic REST API.

Workflow overview

Generally RestRserve workflow consists of several major steps:

  1. Create application with Application$new()

  2. Create a function which follows RestRserve API:

    • should take 2 arguments - request and response as an input. request and response are instances of RestRserve::Request and RestRserve::Response. It is important to remember that both request and response are mutable objects.

    • should modify response in place or raise() exception in case of error

  3. Register this function as a handler for an endpoint

  4. Start application

1. Create application

app = Application$new()

2. Define logic

For simplicity we will use Fibonacci number calculation as an algorithm we want to expose.

calc_fib = function(n) {
  if (n < 0L) stop("n should be >= 0")
  if (n == 0L) return(0L)
  if (n == 1L || n == 2L) return(1L)
  x = rep(1L, n)
  for (i in 3L:n) {
   x[[i]] = x[[i - 1]] + x[[i - 2]] 

Create function which will handle requests.

fib_handler = function(.req, .res) {
  n = as.integer(.req$parameters_query[["n"]])
  if (length(n) == 0L || {

You may have noticed strange .req and .res argument names. Starting from RestRserve v0.4.0 these “reserved” names allows to benefit from autocomplete:

<img src=“” width=“640” style=“vertical-align:bottom”, alt=“request-response autocomplete gif”>

Technically .req and .res are just empty instances of ?Request and ?Response classes exported by RestRserve in order to make autocomplete work.

2. Register endpoint

app$add_get(path = "/fib", FUN = fib_handler)

3. Test endpoints

Now we can test our application without starting it:

request = Request$new(path = "/fib", parameters_query = list(n = 10))
response = app$process_request(request)

cat("Response status:", response$status)
#> Response status: 200 OK
cat("Response body:", response$body)
#> Response body: 55

It is generally a good idea to write unit tests against application. One can use a common framework such as tinytest.

4. Add OpenAPI description and Swagger UI

Generally it is a good idea to provide documentation along with the API. Convenient way to do that is to supply a openapi specification. This as simple as adding a yaml file as an additional endpoint:

openapi: 3.0.1
  title: RestRserve OpenAPI
  version: '1.0'
  - url: /
      description: Calculates Fibonacci number
        - name: "n"
          description: "x for Fibonnacci number"
          in: query
            type: integer
          example: 10
          required: true
          description: API response
                type: string
                example: 5
          description: Bad Request
yaml_file = system.file("examples", "openapi", "openapi.yaml", package = "RestRserve")
app$add_openapi(path = "/openapi.yaml", file_path = yaml_file)
app$add_swagger_ui(path = "/doc", path_openapi = "/openapi.yaml", use_cdn = TRUE)

5. Start the app

Now all is ready and we can start application with Rserve backend. It will block R session and start listening for incoming requests.

backend = BackendRserve$new()
backend$start(app, http_port = 8080)

6. Test it

Send request to calculate fibonacci number:

curl localhost:8080/fib?n=10

Check out a swagger UI in the browser: ⁠http://localhost:8080/doc⁠


Maintainer: Dmitry Selivanov (ORCID)


Other contributors:

See Also

Useful links:

RestRserve documentation built on May 29, 2024, 8:18 a.m.