isConnectionValid: Checks if a Connection is Valid

Description Usage Arguments Value Connection Index versus Connection Identifier Connections Cannot be Serialized Or Saved References See Also Examples

View source: R/isConnectionValid.R


Get a unique identifier for an R connection and check whether or not the connection is still valid.





A connection.


isConnectionValid() returns TRUE if the connection is still valid, otherwise FALSE. If FALSE, then character attribute reason provides an explanation why the connection is not valid.

connectionId() returns an non-negative integer, -1, or NA_integer_. For connections stdin, stdout, and stderr, 0, 1, and 2, are returned, respectively. For all other connections, an integer greater or equal to 3 based on the connection's internal pointer is returned. A connection that has been serialized, which is no longer valid, has identifier -1. Attribute raw_id returns the pointer string from which the above is inferred.

Connection Index versus Connection Identifier

R represents connections as indices using plain integers, e.g. idx <- as.integer(con). The three connections standard input ("stdin"), standard output ("stdout"), and standard error ("stderr") always exists and have indices 0, 1, and 2. Any connection opened beyond these will get index three or greater, depending on availability as given by base::showConnections(). To get the connection with a given index, use base::getConnection(). Unfortunately, this index representation of connections is non-robust, e.g. there are cases where two or more 'connection' objects can end up with the same index and if used, the written output may end up at the wrong destination and files and database might get corrupted. This can for instance happen if base::closeAllConnections() is used (*). In contrast, id <- connectionId(con) gives an identifier that is unique to that 'connection' object. This identifier is based on the internal pointer address of the object. The risk for two connections in the same R session to end up with the same pointer address is very small. Thus, in case we ended up in a situation where two connections con1 and con2 share the same index - as.integer(con1) == as.integer(con2) - they will never share the same identifier - connectionId(con1) != connectionId(con2). Here, isConnectionValid() can be used to check which one of these connections, if any, are valid.

(*) Note that there is no good reason for calling closeAllConnections() If called, there is a great risk that the files get corrupted etc. See (1) for examples and details on this problem. If you think there is a need to use it, it is much safer to restart R because that is guaranteed to give you a working R session with non-clashing connections. It might also be that closeAllConnections() is used because is called, which might happen if R is being forced to terminate.

Connections Cannot be Serialized Or Saved

A 'connection' cannot be serialized, e.g. it cannot be saved to file to be read and used in another R session. If attempted, the connection will not be valid. This is a problem that may occur in parallel processing when passing an R object to parallel worker for further processing, e.g. the exported object may hold an internal database connection which will no longer be valid on the worker. When a connection is serialized, its internal pointer address will be invalidated (set to nil). In such cases, connectionId(con) returns -1 and isConnectionValid(con) returns FALSE.


  1. 'BUG: A connection object may become corrupt and re-referenced to another connection (PATCH)', 2018-10-30.

  2. R-devel thread PATCH: Asserting that 'connection' used has not changed + R_GetConnection2(), 2018-10-31.

See Also

See base::showConnections() for currently open connections and their indices. To get a connection by its index, use base::getConnection().


## R represents connections as plain indices
as.integer(stdin())          ## int 0
as.integer(stdout())         ## int 1
as.integer(stderr())         ## int 2

## The first three connections always exist and are always valid
isConnectionValid(stdin())   ## TRUE
connectionId(stdin())        ## 0L
isConnectionValid(stdout())  ## TRUE
connectionId(stdout())       ## 1L
isConnectionValid(stderr())  ## TRUE
connectionId(stderr())       ## 2L

## Connections cannot be serialized
con <- file(tempfile(), open = "w")
x <- list(value = 42, stderr = stderr(), con = con)
y <- unserialize(serialize(x, connection = NULL))
isConnectionValid(y$stderr)  ## TRUE
connectionId(y$stderr)       ##  2L
isConnectionValid(y$con)     ## FALSE with attribute 'reason'
connectionId(y$con)          ## -1L

parallelly documentation built on Nov. 21, 2021, 9:07 a.m.