Create consistent metadata for pins

The metadata argument in pins is flexible and can hold any kind of metadata that you can formulate as a list(). In some situations, you may want to read and write with consistent customized metadata; you can create functions to wrap pin_write() and pin_read() for your particular use case.

To see a different approach for when you want to write and read whole file(s) in a customized way, see vignette("managing-custom-formats").

We’ll begin by creating a temporary board for demonstration:


board <- board_temp()

A function to store factors

Say you want to store a factor as JSON together with the levels of the factor in the metadata. We can write a function wrapping pin_write() that creates the standardized metadata we are interested in and writes it in a consistent way.

pin_write_factor_json <- function(board, 
                                  title = NULL, 
                                  description = NULL, 
                                  metadata = list(), 
                                  versioned = NULL, 
                                  tags = NULL, 
                                  ...) {
  if (!is.factor(x)) rlang::abort("`x` is not a factor")
  factor_levels <- levels(x)
  metadata <- modifyList(metadata, list(factor_levels = factor_levels))
    board = board, 
    x = x, 
    name = name, 
    type = "json", 
    title = title, 
    description = description, 
    metadata = metadata,

We can use this new function to write a pin as JSON with our specific metadata:

ten_letters <- factor(sample(letters, size = 10), levels = letters)
board %>% pin_write_factor_json(ten_letters, "letters-as-json")
#> Creating new version '20231109T155346Z-c3227'
#> Writing to pin 'letters-as-json'

A function to read factors

It’s possible to read this pin using the regular pin_read() function, but the object we get is no longer a factor!

board %>% pin_read("letters-as-json")
#>  [1] "i" "a" "f" "m" "w" "j" "e" "g" "h" "k"

Instead, we can also write a special function for reading, to reconstruct the factor including its levels:

pin_read_factor_json <- function(board, name, version = NULL, hash = NULL, ...) {
  ret <- pin_read(board = board, name = name, version = version, hash = hash, ...)
  meta <- pin_meta(board = board, name = name, version = version, ...)
  factor(ret, levels = meta$user$factor_levels)

board %>% pin_read_factor_json("letters-as-json")
#>  [1] i a f m w j e g h k
#> Levels: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Examples of using consistent metadata

How are these approaches used in real projects?