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One of the great features of R is the possibility to quickly access web-services. While some companies have the habit and policy to document their APIs, there is still a large chunk of undocumented but great web-services that help the regular data scientist.
In the following short post, I will show how we can turn a simple web-serivce in a nice R-function.
The example I am going to use is the linguee translation service: DeepL.
Just as google translate, Deepl features a simple text field. When a user types in text, the translation appears in a second textbox. Users can choose between the languages.
In order to see how the service works in the backend, let’s have a quick look at the network traffic.
For that we open the browser’s developer tools and jump to the network tab. Next, we type in a sentence and see which requests (XHR) are made. The interface repeatedly sends JSON requests to the following endpoint: “https://www.deepl.com/jsonrpc”.
Looking at a single request we can quickly identify the parameters that we typed in (grey area, in the lower right corner). We copy these in r and assign them to a variable.
Using a service to format the json (e.g. https://jsonformatter.curiousconcept.com/) we can turn the blob in a well readable json file. Next, we convert the JSON string in a R object (a nested list) by using a simple JSON to R language translation:
Finally, we evaluate the string as R-code, this gives us the DeepL web-services’ parameters as an R nested list.
All we have to do now is wrap the parameters in a R function and use variables to change the important ones:
I hope the post helps you turn more web-services into R-functions/packages.
If you are looking for other translation services have a look at the translate or translateR packages.
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