# [How to] Write a purrr-like adverb

Create your own `safely`

, `compose`

and friends!

## What is an adverb

If you read carefully the purrr documentation, you’ll find this simple explanation :

Adverbs modify the action of a function; taking a function as input and returning a function with modified action as output.

In other words, adverbs take a function, and return this function modified. Yes, just as an adverb modifies a verb. So if you do :

```
library(purrr)
safe_log <- safely(log)
```

The returned object is another function that you can use just as a regular one.

```
class(safe_log)
```

```
## [1] "function"
```

```
safe_log("a")
```

```
## $result
## NULL
##
## $error
## <simpleError in log(x = x, base = base): argument non numérique pour une fonction mathématique>
```

In computer science, these adverbs are what is called “high-order functions”.

## How to write your own?

I’ve been playing with adverbs in {attempt}, notably through these adverbs :

```
library(attempt)
# Silently only return the errors, and nothing if the function succeeds
silent_log <- silently(log)
silent_log(1)
```

```
# Surely make a function always work, without stopping the process
sure_log <- surely(log)
sure_log(1)
```

```
## [1] 0
```

```
sure_log("a")
```

```
# with_message and with_warning
as_num_msg <- with_message(as.numeric, msg = "We're performing a numeric conversion")
as_num_warn <- with_warning(as.numeric, msg = "We're performing a numeric conversion")
as_num_msg("1")
```

```
## We're performing a numeric conversion
## [1] 1
```

```
as_num_warn("1")
```

```
## Warning in as_num_warn("1"): We're performing a numeric conversion
## [1] 1
```

So, how to implement this kind of behavior? Let’s take a simple example
with `sleepy`

, also shared on
Twitter.

```
sleepy <- function(fun, sleep){
function(...){
Sys.sleep(sleep)
fun(...)
}
}
sleep_print <- sleepy(Sys.time, 5)
class(sleep_print)
```

```
## [1] "function"
```

```
# Let's try
Sys.time()
```

```
## [1] "2018-09-03 21:17:05 CEST"
```

```
sleep_print()
```

```
## [1] "2018-09-03 21:17:10 CEST"
```

Let’s decompose what we’ve got here.

First of all, the function should return another function, so we need to start with :

```
talky <- function(){
function(){
}
}
```

What this function will take as a first argument is another function, that will be executed when our future new function is called.

So let’s do this:

```
talky <- function(fun){
function(){
fun()
}
}
```

Because you know, with R referential transparency, you can create a variable that is a function:

```
plop <- mean
plop(1:10)
```

```
## [1] 5.5
```

This simple skeleton will work if we take a function without any args:

```
sys_time <- talky(Sys.time)
sys_time()
```

```
## [1] "2018-09-03 21:17:10 CEST"
```

But hey, this is not what we want: we need this new function to be able
to take arguments. So let’s use our friend `...`

.

```
talky <- function(fun){
function(...){
fun(...)
}
}
```

Now, our new adverb creates a function that can take arguments. But as
you’ve notice, this is still not really an adverb: we need to **modify**
something. Now you’re only limited by your imagination ;)

```
# Print the time
talky <- function(fun){
function(...){
print(Sys.time())
fun(...)
}
}
talky_sqrt <- talky(sqrt)
talky_sqrt(10)
```

```
## [1] "2018-09-03 21:17:10 CEST"
## [1] 3.162278
```

```
# Or with a kind message ?
talky <- function(fun, mess){
function(...){
message(mess)
fun(...)
}
}
talky_sqrt<- talky(fun = sqrt, mess = "Hey there! You Rock!")
talky_sqrt(1)
```

```
## Hey there! You Rock!
## [1] 1
```

```
# Run it or not ?
maybe <- function(fun){
function(...){
num <- sample(1:100, 1)
if (num > 50) {
fun(...)
}
}
}
maybe_sqrt <- maybe(fun = sqrt)
maybe_sqrt(1)
maybe_sqrt(1)
```

```
## [1] 1
```

```
maybe_sqrt(1)
```

```
## [1] 1
```

```
# Create a log file of a function
log_calls <- function(fun, file){
function(...){
write(as.character(Sys.time()), file, append = TRUE, sep = "\n")
fun(...)
}
}
log_sqrt <- log_calls(sqrt, file = "logs")
log_sqrt(10)
```

```
## [1] 3.162278
```

```
log_sqrt(13)
```

```
## [1] 3.605551
```

```
readLines("logs")
```

```
## [1] "2018-09-03 21:17:10" "2018-09-03 21:17:10"
```

## Leave a Comment