pointblank (development version) Unreleased

pointblank 0.7.0 2021-03-09

New features

  • New functions for set-based interrogations: col_vals_make_set() (+ expect_col_vals_make_set() and test_col_vals_make_set()) and col_vals_make_subset() (+ expect_col_vals_make_subset() and test_col_vals_make_subset()); they answer the following two questions: (1) is a set of values entirely accounted for in a column of values?, and (2) is a set of values a subset of a column of values?

  • New functions for order-based interrogations: col_vals_increasing() (+ expect_col_vals_increasing() and test_col_vals_increasing()) and col_vals_decreasing() (+ expect_col_vals_decreasing() and test_col_vals_decreasing()); they check that column values are either increasing or decreasing and both have options to allow for non-moving values and backtracking (with a threshold).

  • Several functions added to facilitate multi-agent workflows: create_multiagent(), read_disk_multiagent(), and get_multiagent_report(); these workflows help to track interrogation results across multiple agents and the reporting scales well from several to dozens of agents.

  • The new function write_testthat_file() generates a testthat test file and puts it in tests/testthat if certain conditions are met; this converts an agent’s validation plan into separate expect_*() statements.

  • New functions tbl_store(), tbl_source(), and tbl_get() functions added for centrally managing table-prep formulas.

  • Added the yaml_exec() function that processes all relevant pointblank YAML files in a directory; execution involves interrogation of agents (given YAML agents) and incorporation of informants (given YAML informants), saving all the processed objects to an output directory.

  • The new functions file_tbl() and helper from_github() make it easy to generate a table from a compatible data file; a file could be in the form of CSV, TSV, RDA, or RDS.

  • Several functions have been added for modifying an agent’s validation plan: activate_steps(), deactivate_steps(), remove_steps().

  • Added the snip_stats() function for generating an in-line statistical summary in an information report.

  • Add sorting options for snip_list() so we can choose to sort column items by frequency or sequentially (alphabetically/numerically).

  • More improvements were made to snip_list() to: (1) have a better default appearance, (2) enable more customization, and (3) include localization options for the supported spoken languages.

  • Added several options for customizing the main reporting heading in three reporting objects: the agent report, the information report, and the multiagent report.

  • The active argument in every validation function can now take an expression that evaluates to a logical; the has_columns() has been added to make it easy to express in active whether one or more columns are present in the target table (e.g., perform the validation step only if the target column is available).

  • Added support for using Arrow tables as target tables for informant objects.


  • Added information on YAML representations of all validation functions and several other functions that make an appearance in YAML.

  • General improvements to function documentation were made to a wide cross section of the exported functions.

Minor improvements and bug fixes

  • Included method for writing an informant object to disk (with x_write_disk()).

  • Many fixes were made and tests added to ensure that agents survive the YAML roundtrip (so agent %>% yaml_write() then yaml_read_agent() creates the same agent object).

  • Updated several internal dplyr::arrange() statements used by scan_data() so that warnings aren’t issued by dbplyr (for table scans operating on tbl_dbi objects).

  • All tidyselect expressions used with agents are now preserved when the agent is written to YAML.

pointblank 0.6.0 2020-11-20

Pointblank Information

  • The new information management workflow is full of features that help you to describe tables and keep on top of changes to them. To make this work well, a new character enters: the informant!

  • Added the create_informant() function to create a ptblank_informant object (this function is similar to create_agent()). It is meant to hold information (as much as you want, really) for a target table, with reporting features geared toward communication.

  • Functions for facilitating entry of info text were added because we need them (info_tabular(), info_columns(), and info_section()). These are focused on describing columns, the table proper, and other misc. fields.

  • If all that wasn’t enough, this release adds info_snippet() to round out the collection of info_*() functions for this workflow. Oh, hang on, there’s also the all-important incorporate() function. What? To explain, the idea is to have some methodology for acquiring important bits of data from the target table (that’s info_snippet()’s job) and then use incorporate() to grab those morsels of data and stitch them into the info text (via { }).

  • Added the get_informant_report() function for printing the information report (a gt table object!).

  • You can also just print the informant object to show the information report thanks to a print method for this purpose.

  • The informant object can be written to pointblank YAML using the revised yaml_write() (previously agent_yaml_write()) function. We can actually write both the agent and the informant to the same YAML file which is useful since both objects share the same target table. Reading is done with the yaml_read_agent() and yaml_read_informant() functions.

  • The informant can be emailed using the email_create() function; this emailing can be done in one of eight languages for the stock message text.

Translations and Locales

  • More text in the agent report is translated now.

  • Improved the Spanish (Spain) translation.

  • Added the Portuguese ("pt", Brazil), Chinese ("zh", China mainland), and Russian ("ru") translations.

  • Added a locale option for reporting; the locale will match the language (using the base locale) unless a different locale is specified. The locale is used to format numeric values according to the locale’s rules. This also applies to the reporting offered by the scan_data() function.

  • All stock email message parts (used when emailing the agent report or the information report) have been translated to the eight supported languages. The language setting in the respective objects is used to determine the language of the stock message parts.

Breaking changes

New features

  • The new db_tbl() function makes it ridiculously easy to access a database table from the selection of databases that pointblank supports for validation; they are accessible with the supplied keywords "postgres" (PostgreSQL), "mysql" (MySQL), "maria" (MariaDB), "duckdb" (DuckDB), "sqlite" (SQLite), or, with any driver function you’d like to supply.

  • Added the log4r_step() function which can be used as an action in an action_levels() function call (i.e., a list component for the fns list). We can place a call to this function in every condition that should produce a log entry (i.e., warn, stop, notify).


  • Added several articles that explain the different validation workflows (there are six of ’em) and articles that go over the Information Management workflow.

  • Improved documentation for almost all functions in the package; added more useful examples.

  • Added a table to the project README that keeps everyone apprised of the project milestones and the issues to be closed for each upcoming release.

Minor improvements and bug fixes

  • Improved appearance of the agent report: (1) more tooltips, (2) the tooltips are much improved (they animate, have larger text, and are snappier than the previous ones), (3) SVGs are now used as symbols for the validation steps instead of blurry PNGs, (4) less confusing glyphs are now used in the TBL column, (5) the agent label can be expressed as Markdown and looks nicer in the report, (6) the table type (and name, if supplied as tbl_name) is shown in the header, (7) validation threshold levels also shown in the table header, (8) interrogation starting/ending timestamps are shown (along with duration) in the table footer, (9) the table font has been changed to be less default-y, and (10) adjustments to table borders and cell shading were made for better readability.

  • The get_agent_report() function now has lang and locale arguments to override any of those values set prior (e.g., in create_agent()). This allows for the reporting language to be changed without the need to re-run everything from scratch.

  • The set_tbl(), remove_tbl(), set_read_fn(), and remove_read_fn() functions can now also be used with an informant object.

  • The get_sundered_data() function is more clear with regard to which validation steps are considered for splitting of the data. Using validation steps with preconditions must fulfill the rule that the target table only have a single form across steps.

  • The is_exact argument is new in the col_schema_match(), expect_col_schema_match(), and test_col_schema_match() functions, further allowing these types of validations to be less stringent. This argument loosens the requirement to include all class names for a column that may have multiple. Also, we can specify NULL to entirely skip the checking of a class/type.

  • We can now use more combinations of validation functions in conjointly(). Those validation functions that intrinsically operate over a single test unit (e.g., all of the col_is_*() functions) now work in combination with validation functions that operate over n test units (e.g., the col_vals_*() functions). This lets us test for a condition where columns are of a certain type AND individual test units fulfill the col_vals_*() requirements.

  • Simplified the sections argument of scan_data() to be a length-1 character vector containing key characters standing for section names.

  • Refactored a large portion of the code that produces the agent report to increase rendering speed.

  • Improved printing of errors/warnings (in the tooltips of the EVAL column in the agent report) thanks to implementation of HTML escaping.

  • The small version of the agent report (perfect for emailing) now has much improved formatting.

pointblank 0.5.2 2020-08-28

  • Fixes a performance issue for validations on larger tables.

  • Improved formatting of value ranges in the agent report.

pointblank 0.5.1 2020-08-27

  • Improved compatibility with validations performed on SQL Server 2019.

  • Integrated the label argument into all validation functions; this label is available in the agent x_list and, more importantly, displayed in the agent report (in the STEP column).

  • Added the "combined" option in the get_sundered_data() function (for the type argument). This applies a categorical (pass/fail) label (settable in the new pass_fail argument of the same function) in a new .pb_combined flag column of the output table.

  • Made several visual improvements to the agent report.

pointblank 0.5.0 2020-08-12

New features

  • The agent can now be given a table-reading function, which is used for reading in the data during an interrogation. If a tbl is not provided, then this function will be invoked. However, if both a tbl and a read_fn is specified, then the supplied tbl will take priority (useful for one-shot interrogations with a table in an interactive context). There are two ways to specify a read_fn: (1) using a function (e.g., function() { <table reading code> }) or, (2) with an R formula expression (e.g., ~ { <table reading code> }).

  • Added a a set of functions for setting and removing an agent’s association to a data table (set_tbl() and remove_tbl()) or a table-reading function (set_read_fn() and remove_read_fn()).

  • All validation functions now have a step_id parameter. The use of step IDs serves to distinguish validation steps from each other and provide an opportunity for supplying a more meaningful label compared to the step index. Supplying a step_id is optional; pointblank will automatically generate the step ID value (based on the step index) if it’s not provided.

  • Added new functions for reading and writing YAML (here, called pointblank YAML). A pointblank YAML file can be generated with an agent by using the agent_yaml_write() function. You’re always free to create pointblank YAML by hand, or, you can edit/extend an existing pointblank YAML file. An agent can be created from pointblank YAML with the agent_yaml_read() function. It’s also possible to interrogate a target data table right from pointblank YAML by using agent_yaml_interrogate().

  • The agent_write() and agent_read() functions were added; they allow for saving the agent to disk and reading the agent back from disk. Saved-to-disk agents still retain their validation plans, intel from interrogations, and their reference to a target table (the read_fn value) and even the entire target table (if requested). Reading an agent from disk with agent_read() allows us to use post-interrogation functions (e.g., get_agent_x_list(), get_data_extracts(), get_agent_report(), etc.) as though the interrogation had just occurred.

  • pointblank is now compatible with Spark DataFrames through the sparklyr package. Simply use a tbl_spark object when specifying the target table in create_agent(), set_tbl(), or scan_data().

Minor improvements and bug fixes

  • An issue with showing the agent report table in the email message body via the email_blast() function has been resolved.

  • Resolved issue with using literal character values in comparison-based validation functions (e.g., col_vals_between(), col_vals_gt(), etc.).

  • Completely rewrote the underlying processes for the storage and retrieval of translation text.

  • Much improved translations of reporting text the Spanish and German languages. Thanks @pachamaltese and @DavZim for these valuable contributions!

  • New testthat tests were added that test pointblank validations against mock PostgreSQL and MySQL database tables via the dittodb package. Thank you @pachamaltese for implementing these tests.

pointblank 0.4.0 2020-06-22

New R Markdown features

  • New R Markdown validation feature allows for validation testing within specialized validation code chunks where the validate = TRUE option is set. Using pointblank validation functions on data in these marked code chunks will flag overall failure if the stop threshold is exceeded anywhere. All errors are reported in the validation code chunk after rendering the document to HTML, where green or red status buttons indicate whether all validations succeeded or failures occurred. Clicking any such button reveals the otherwise hidden validation statements and their error messages (if any). Using pointblank in an R Markdown workflow is enabled by default once the pointblank library is loaded. While the framework for such testing is set up by default, the new validate_rmd() function offers an opportunity to set UI and logging options.

  • Added an R Markdown template for the new R Markdown validation feature (Pointblank Validation).

  • The new stop_if_not() function works well as a standalone, replacement for stopifnot() but is also customized for use in validation checks in R Markdown documents where pointblank is loaded. Using stop_if_not() in a code chunk where the validate = TRUE option is set will yield the correct reporting of successes and failures whereas stopifnot() does not.

  • A knit.print() method was added to facilitate the printing of the agent report table within an R Markdown code chunk.

Breaking changes

  • The default behavior of using validation step functions (e.g., col_vals_lt()) directly on data tables has been changed. Before, a single test unit failure would trigger a warning. Now, a single test unit failing results in an error. Going back to the earlier behavior now requires the use of actions = warn_on_fail() (a new helper function, which has a default warn_at threshold value of 1) with each invocation of a validation step function. The stop_on_fail() helper function is also new in this release, and has a stop_at threshold parameter, also with a default of 1.

New features

  • Added 24 expectation functions (e.g., expect_col_exists(), expect_rows_distinct(), expect_col_schema_match(), etc.) as complements of the 24 validation functions. All of these can be used for testthat tests of tabular data with a simplified interface that exposes an easy-to-use failure threshold (defaulting to 1).

  • Added 24 test functions (e.g., test_col_exists(), test_rows_distinct(), test_col_schema_match(), etc.) to further complement the 24 validation functions. These functions return a logical value: TRUE if the threshold (having a default of 1) is not exceeded, FALSE otherwise. These test_*() functions use the same simplified interface of the expect_*() functions.

  • Added the col_vals_expr(), expect_col_vals_expr(), and test_col_vals_expr() validation, expectation, and test functions, making it easier for DIY validations. The dplyr expr(), case_when(), and between() functions were re-exported for easier accessibility here since they work exceedingly well with the new functions.

  • col_schema_match() (and its expect and test analogues) gained new arguments: complete and in_order. These allow for some relaxation of constraints related to the completeness and ordering of columns defined in a col_schema object (created by col_schema()).

  • The preconditions argument available in all validation, expectation, and test functions now accepts both formula and function values (previously, only formula values were accepted).

  • The get_agent_report() function now has a size argument as an option to get the agent report table in the "standard" (width: 875px) size or the "small" size (width: 575px); previously this option was only accessible through ....

  • The appearance of the agent report has improved and it’s gained some new features: (1) data extracts for failing rows (on row-based validation steps) can be downloaded as CSVs via the new buttons that appear in the EXT column, (2) there are useful has tooltips on most fields of the table (e.g., hovering over items in STEP will show the brief, TBL icons will describe whether any preconditions were applied to the table prior to interrogation, etc.), and (3) there are printing improvements in the COLUMNS and VALUES columns (e.g., table columns are distinguished from literal values).

  • Improved the appearance of the email message generated by email_blast() and email_preview(). This email message, when using the stock_msg_body() and stock_msg_footer() as defaults for msg_body and msg_footer, embeds a "small" version of the agent report and provides some introductory text with nicer formatting than before.

Documentation improvements

  • All functions now have revised documentation that is more complete, has more examples, and consistent across the many validation, expectation, and test functions.

  • The package README now contains better graphics, some reworked examples, and a new section on the package’s design goals (with a listing of other R packages that also focus on table validation).

Minor improvements and bug fixes

  • Rewrote the internal stock_stoppage() and stock_warning() functions so that the generated error and warning messages match whether validation functions are used directly on data or expectation functions are being used.

  • Console status messages when performing an interrogation now only appear in an interactive session. They will no longer appear during R Markdown rendering nor during execution of unattended scripts.

  • The col_vals_regex() validation function (plus the associated expectation and test functions) can now be used with database tables (on some of the DB types that support regular expressions). This has been tested on MySQL and PostgreSQL, which have differing underlying SQL implementations.

  • The col_schema() function now allows for either uppercase or lowercase SQL column types (using .db_col_types = "sql"). Previously, supplying SQL columns types as uppercase (e.g., “INT”, “TINYINT”, etc.) would always fail validation because the SQL column types of the target table are captured as lowercase values during the create_agent() call.

  • Many new tests were added to cover both the new functions and the existing functions. It’s important for a validation package that testing be comprehensive and rigorous, so, this will continue to be a focus in forthcoming releases.

  • Fixed a duration label bug in the console status messages that appear during interrogation (now consistently has values reported in seconds)

  • Added column validity checks inside of internal interrogate_*() functions

pointblank 0.3.1 Unreleased

  • Fixed implementation of the col_vals_between() and col_vals_not_between() step functions to work with tbl_dbi objects.

  • Added the scan_data() function, which thoroughly scans any table data so you can understand it better (giving you an HTML report).

  • Added the get_agent_x_list() function to provide easy access to agent intel

  • Added the get_agent_report() function to give fine control over the agent’s gt-based reportage; also, the agent’s default print method is now that report (with default appearance options)

  • Added the get_sundered_data() function to split the table data into ‘pass’ and ‘fail’ pieces after interrogation

  • Added the col_schema_match() validation step function; it works in conjunction with a col_schema object (generated through the col_schema() function) to help determine whether the expected schema matches the target table.

  • Added multilingual support to reports generated by agent validations and by those produced through the new scan_data() function

  • More fully integrates the gt (for tables in reports) and blastula (for email production and delivery) packages

  • Numerous fixes to ensure compatibility with tibble 3.0.0

pointblank 0.3.0 2020-01-10

The pointblank package has been changed significantly from the previous version in favor of consistency and simplicity, better reporting, and increased power. The internals have been extensively refactored and the API has accordingly gone through revisions.

Breaking Changes

  • The focus_on() function has been removed in favor of directly using a data object. This means that a single use of create_agent() can now only work on a single table at a time (create_agent() now has a tbl argument). Also, the input tbl can be a data.frame, a tbl_df, or a tbl_dbi object.

  • The preconditions argument has changed and it can now be used to temporarily transform the table (i.e., transforming for a particular validation step). Previously, this option could only filter the input table but now it’s possible to do useful things like joining in a table, adding columns, filtering rows, etc. The preconditions args now accepts a list of expressions that manipulate the table data.

  • The action_levels() helper function is introduced to work with the actions argument (in every validation step function). This replaces the warn_count, stop_count, notify_count, warn_fraction, stop_fraction, and notify_fraction arguments. The function allows for evaluation of functions (given in the fns argument) as a reaction to exceeding thresholds specified in warn_at, stop_at, and notify_at.

  • When using validation step functions directly on data (i.e., no use of create_agent()), data is now passed straight through after that validation step. The purpose now in that mode is to create warnings or throw errors if the warn or stop thresholds are exceeded.

  • Across all pointblank validation step functions, the argument that stands for table columns has been normalized to columns.

  • The incl_na argument, which was implemented in a few validation step functions, has been renamed to na_pass to better indicate its purpose (to consider any encountered NA values as passing test units), and, its use has been expanded to other relevant functions.

New Features

  • It’s now possible to use vars() and certain tidyselect select helpers (e.g., starts_with()) when defining columns in the pointblank validation step functions.

  • The conjointly() function is a new validation step function that allows for multiple rowwise validation steps to be performed for joint validity testing.

pointblank 0.2.1 2019-09-12

  • Revisions on account of API changes in tidyr 1.0.0.

  • Incorporates corrections related to API changes in rlang 0.2.0.

pointblank 0.1 2017-08-22

  • First release.