Civis Platform API R Client

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civis is an R package that helps analysts and developers interact with the Civis Platform. The package includes a set of tools around common workflows as well as a convenient interface to make requests directly to the Civis Platform API.


The full documentation is hosted here. The fastest way to get started is with the getting started guide.

API Keys

Installing and using civis requires an API key. Instructions for creating an API key can be found here. All API keys have a set expiration date and so a new key will need to be created at least every 30 days.

Once you have created an API key, you will then need to add it to your .Renviron so the civis package can access it.


touch ~/.Renviron
open -t ~/.Renviron

Then add the following line replacing the fake key sadf8sadf9jasdf with the API key from your Civis Platform Profile:


After saving the .Renviron file, you’ll need to restart R/Rstudio.


A .Renviron file can be created in the R user home directory, Sys.getenv("R_USER"). Typically this is "C:/username/Documents". Open or create .Renviron with notepad and add the key as above. Save with type all files, not .txt. Restart R/Rstudio.

:heavy_exclamation_mark: You must keep your API key secret. If you use version control tools, ensure you do not commit .Renviron or any scripts in which you have hard-coded an API key.


# Default install

# All features (including CivisML)
install.packages("civis", depends = TRUE)


The civis package can automatically generate R functions and documentation to interact with the Civis Platform when the package installs.

From time to time, new API functions are added. These can be obtained immediately by installing the package from source:

install.packages('civis', depends = TRUE, type = 'source')


civis includes functionality for both

  1. Making single calls to accomplish a specific task (which may involve making multiple calls to the API)
  2. Making direct calls to the API

Many useful tasks will require making multiple direct calls to the API. civis includes a number of wrapper functions to make common tasks like IO and modeling easier. For example, reading data from a table in Platform is as easy as


# Read an entire table in to memory
my_table <- "schema.tablename"
df <- read_civis(my_table, database="my_database")

# Run a query and read the results into memory
query <- sql("SELECT a, b, c FROM schema.tablename WHERE b > 42")
df2 <- read_civis(query, database="my_database")

civis includes many more functions for tasks like writing data to tables and files as well as for creating reports. For more detailed documentation, see the included vignettes:


Direct calls to API

Functions which make direct calls to the API are prefixed with the name of the resource that the function accesses. For example, the users resource encapsulates all the functionality of Platform regarding users. We can make various calls to the users resource to get information about ourselves and our team.

# Data about me

List of 14
 $ id                      : int 971
 $ name                    : chr "A User"
 $ email                   : chr ""
 $ username                : chr "a_user"
 $ initials                : chr "AU"
# ...
# Data about my team
my_team <- civis::users_list()
team_members <- sapply(my_team, function(x) x$name)

[1] "Jean-Luc Picard"      "Beverly Crusher"     "Q"

API Documentation


Contributions to the code are very welcome! Issues and bug reports can filed through the standard Github issue interface.


  1. Fork the repo, make changes in your branch.
  2. Unit tests must pass, and can be run with devtools::test() or cmd-shift-t in Rstudio.
  3. New code must be backed with tests, mocking all API calls.
  4. R CMD check must pass, i.e. using devtools::check().
  5. Make a pull request from the fork to the master branch of the main repo. In your pull request, link to the issue the pull request addresses.
  6. Tag a maintainer for review. Once it has been approved, squash and merge!

Adding the environment variable R_CLIENT_DEV = "TRUE" to .Renviron will prevent new API functions and documentation from being generated based on your API Key. The default generated API functions included in the package are only updated when this package releases to CRAN.

Integration tests

For major, potentially breaking changes, integration tests should be run with

cd tools/integration_tests
Rscript smoke_test.R

Note, integration tests require a valid API key to run, and my be slow.


All contributors of code should include themselves in DESCRIPTION by adding the following object in the Authors@R section:

person("FirstName", "LastName", email = "", role = "ctb")

This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.