Introduction to the rddi package



The rddi package is developer-focused package provides R representations of DDI Codebook 2.5 elements to safely construct fully-validated XML while still being flexible. This package covers all elements in the DDI codebook schema, including the attributes and constraints of each element.


rddi is not yet on CRAN, so please download the devleopment version with:

# install.packages("devtools")

What is the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)?

The Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) is an international standard for describing data from surveys in the social and health sciences. There are currently two versions in use, the DDI-Codebook (v 2.5), which is used for single datasets, and DDI Lifecycle (3.0) which tracks a project through it’s lifecycle. This package only covers the codebook. For more information go to

A DDI-Codebook is structured as follows

|- codeBook |—-docDscr |—-stdyDscr |—-fileDscr |—-dataDscr

codeBook serves as the root node, the stdyDscr holds study level metadata, dataDscr holds variable level metadata, and the fileDscr and docDscr holds administrative metadata about the dataset. The only required element is titl in stdyDscr/citation/titleStmt.

Designed uses of rddi

rddi was designed to work with blueprintr, a plugin to the drake and targets packages. It’s meant to describe the data that is produced through these kinds of pipelines.

There is a ddi_ function for each DDI-Codebook element that accepts a dots function (...) consisting of other ddi_ functions and attributes. The root node is always ddi_codebook() followed by one or more of the following functions (ddi_docDscr(), ddi_stdyDscr(), ddi_fileDscr(), or ddi_dataDscr()) and their children. Element attributes are named variables within each function along with children nodes. Each function also checks for the elements constraints (allowed children, allowed attributes, and the cardinality of each child and attribute if designated by the DDI-Codebook schema). For information on the constraints and attributes of each element a link to the DDI documentation is included in the function’s documentation.

In order to use rddi, vectorized functions like the apply() family of functions in base R or the map() functions from the purrr package, might be necessary depending on the number of repeating elements.

To use them, you first need to create a splat() function to convert the results into a dots function. A sample splat function is below

splat <- function(x, f) {, x)



# to convert to dots (...)
splat <- function(x, f) {, x)

# read in metadata held in a csv
ds <- read_csv("insert path to file here")

# create a variable to add var to dataset
descr_var <- pmap(
  .l = list(name = ds$name, description = ds$description),
  .f = function(name, description) ddi_var(varname = name, ddi_labl(description))

# Build the codebook
codebook <- ddi_codeBook(
  splat(descr_many_var, ddi_dataDscr) # var elements in data description

Validate against the DDI-Codebook schema

codebook %>% 
#> [1] TRUE
#> attr(,"errors")
#> character(0)`

Export as XML

Use the as_xml() and write_xml functions in xml2 package to convert to xml and export.


write_xml(as_xml(codebook), "codebook.xml")