Tag Archives: Dropbox

Submitting R Programs Remotely using Dropbox

One of the great software applications currently available is a product called DropBox. DropBox is a piece of downloadable software that allows you to access your files between different computers by dropping a file into your Dropbox folder. Dropbox automatically syncs the files between all the computers that have access to your Dropbox folder. The great thing about Dropbox is that it just works and is smooth as can be.

I’ve been using Dropbox for about two or three months now and thought how great would it be to extend the functionality of Dropbox by being able to place into a specific folder a WPS or R file and have it automatically execute and write the output back into the Dropbox folder. Basically, you would have access to your organizations server for executing programs while travelling or working onsite.

My experimentation with this is under Windows, and I put together a little application that will allow you to remotely submit an R job. On my server, I have a filewatcher program that monitors the DropBox folder of my choosing and when it sees a new R program (i.e. one with a .R extension) it fires up R and processes the program. The system writes back any output to the Dropbox folder so you also have your .lst and .log files to review. You can also directly write output from your program (say an RDataframe file you created) by referencing the folder in your program.

I’ve included a little video of how R and Dropbox can be used to submit R programs on a remote server using a browser and place the output back into a Dropbox folder.

Click here to view a short 02:30 minute video of Drop4R

Of course, you don’t have to use a browser to place the files in the Dropbox folder. You can always just copy and paste or drag and drop the R program into the DropBox folder and the Job Spawner will simply execute the R program.

I’ve created a small zip file that contains a first draft of an installation guide on how you can setup Drop4R on your Windows computers. I’ve made the application freely available and you can use it without any restrictions.

Links:

Installation Guide: Dropbox Guide

Drop4R Installation File: drop4r.zip

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

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