ETL

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etl is an R package to facilitate Extract - Transform - Load (ETL) operations for medium data. The end result is generally a populated SQL database, but the user interaction takes place solely within R.

etl is now on CRAN, so you can install it in the usual way, then load it.

install.packages("etl")
library(etl)

Instantiate an etl object using a string that determines the class of the resulting object, and the package that provides access to that data. The trivial mtcars database is built into etl.

cars <- etl("mtcars")
## Not a valid src. Creating a src_sqlite for you at:

## /tmp/RtmpjA2zLQ/file7b654f607c84.sqlite3
class(cars)
## [1] "etl_mtcars" "etl"        "src_sqlite" "src_sql"    "src"

Connect to a local or remote database

etl works with a local or remote database to store your data. Every etl object extends a dplyr::src_sql object. If, as in the example above, you do not specify a SQL source, a local RSQLite database will be created for you. However, you can also specify any source that inherits from dplyr::src_sql.

Note: If you want to use a database other than a local RSQLite, you must create the mtcars database and have permission to write to it first!

library(RPostgreSQL)
db <- src_postgres(dbname = "mtcars", user = "postgres", host = "localhost")
library(RMySQL)
db <- src_mysql(dbname = "mtcars", user = "r-user", password = "mypass", host = "localhost")
cars <- etl("mtcars", db)

At the heart of etl are three functions: etl_extract(), etl_transform(), and etl_load().

Extract

The first step is to acquire data from an online source.

cars %>%
  etl_extract()
## Extracting raw data...

This creates a local store of raw data.

Transform

These data may need to be transformed from their raw form to files suitable for importing into SQL (usually CSVs).

cars %>%
  etl_transform()
## Transforming raw data...

Load

Populate the SQL database with the transformed data.

cars %>%
  etl_load()
## Loading processed data...

## Data was successfully written to database.

Do it all at once

To populate the whole database from scratch, use etl_create.

cars %>%
  etl_create()
## Loading SQL script at /home/bbaumer/R/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-library/3.3/etl/sql/init.sqlite

## Extracting raw data...

## Transforming raw data...

## Loading processed data...

## Data was successfully written to database.

You can also update an existing database without re-initializing, but watch out for primary key collisions.

cars %>%
  etl_update()

Step-by-step

Under the hood, there are four functions that etl_update chains together:

getS3method("etl_update", "default")
## function(obj, ...) {
##   obj <- obj %>%
##     etl_extract(...) %>%
##     etl_transform(...) %>%
##     etl_load(...)
##   invisible(obj)
## }
## <environment: namespace:etl>

etl_create is simply a call to etl_update that forces the SQL database to be written from scratch.

getS3method("etl_create", "default")
## function(obj, ...) {
##   obj <- obj %>%
##     etl_init(...) %>%
##     etl_update(...) %>%
##     etl_cleanup(...)
##   invisible(obj)
## }
## <environment: namespace:etl>

Do Your Analysis

Now that your database is populated, you can work with it as a src data table just like any other dplyr source.

cars %>%
  tbl("mtcars") %>%
  group_by(cyl) %>%
  summarise(N = n(), mean_mpg = mean(mpg))
## Source:   query [?? x 3]
## Database: sqlite 3.8.6 [/tmp/RtmpjA2zLQ/file7b654f607c84.sqlite3]
## 
##      cyl     N mean_mpg
##    <int> <int>    <dbl>
## 1      4    11 26.66364
## 2      6     7 19.74286
## 3      8    14 15.10000
## ..   ...   ...      ...

Create your own ETL packages

Suppose you want to create your own ETL package called pkgname. All you have to do is write a package that requires etl, and then you have to write two S3 methods:

etl_extract.etl_pkgname()
etl_load.etl_pkgname()

You may also wish to write

etl_transform.etl_pkgname()
etl_cleanup.etl_pkgname()

All of these functions must take and return an object of class etl_pkgname that inherits from etl. Please see the packages listed below for examples.

Use other ETL packages

Packages that use the etl framework:

tools::dependsOnPkgs("etl")
## [1] "airlines" "fec"      "macleish" "nyc311"