AWS SNS Client Package

aws.sns is a simple client package for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Simple Notification Service (SNS) API, which can be used to trigger push messages to a variety of users, devices, and other endpoints. This might be useful for maintaining multi-platform mailing lists, or simply for creating a way to notify yourself when long-running code completes.

To use the package, you will need an AWS account and to enter your credentials into R. Your keypair can be generated on the IAM Management Console under the heading Access Keys. Note that you only have access to your secret key once. After it is generated, you need to save it in a secure location. New keypairs can be generated at any time if yours has been lost, stolen, or forgotten. The aws.iam package profiles tools for working with IAM, including creating roles, users, groups, and credentials programmatically; it is not needed to use IAM credentials.

By default, all cloudyr packages for AWS services allow the use of credentials specified in a number of ways, beginning with:

  1. User-supplied values passed directly to functions.
  2. Environment variables, which can alternatively be set on the command line prior to starting R or via an or .Renviron file, which are used to set environment variables in R during startup (see ? Startup). Or they can be set within R:

    Sys.setenv("AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID" = "mykey",
               "AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY" = "mysecretkey",
               "AWS_DEFAULT_REGION" = "us-east-1",
               "AWS_SESSION_TOKEN" = "mytoken")
  3. If R is running an EC2 instance, the role profile credentials provided by aws.ec2metadata.
  4. Profiles saved in a /.aws/credentials “dot file” in the current working directory. The `“default” profile is assumed if none is specified.
  5. A centralized ~/.aws/credentials file, containing credentials for multiple accounts. The `“default” profile is assumed if none is specified.

Profiles stored locally or in a centralized location (e.g., ~/.aws/credentials) can also be invoked via:

# use your 'default' account credentials

# use an alternative credentials profile
aws.signature::use_credentials(profile = "bob")

Temporary session tokens are stored in environment variable AWS_SESSION_TOKEN (and will be stored there by the use_credentials() function). The aws.iam package provides an R interface to IAM roles and the generation of temporary session tokens via the security token service (STS).

Code Examples

The main purpose of Amazon SNS is to be able to push messages to different endpoints (e.g., Email, SMS, a Simple Queue Service queue, etc.). To do this, you have to create a topic, subscribe different endpoints (e.g., user email addresses) to that topic, and then publish to the topic. You can subscribe different types of endpoints to the same topic and, similarly, publish different messages to each type of endpoint simultaneously.

To create a topic, use create_topic and configure it using set_topic_attrs. The name argument in create_topic is a private label for you to keep track of topics. To use a topic, you need to use set_topic_attrs to configure a public display name that will be visible to subscribers:

topic <- create_topic(name = "TestTopic")
set_topic_attrs(topic, attribute = c(DisplayName = "Publicly visible topic name"))
## [1] TRUE
## attr(,"RequestId")
## [1] "f89a12da-baa7-50d6-a9fa-430ad53ffca7"

To add a subscription to a topic:

subscribe(topic, "", "email")
## [1] "pending confirmation"
## attr(,"RequestId")
## [1] "5ef5d1d0-6291-5fe1-bd95-80000d095390"
#subscribe(topic, "1-111-555-1234", "sms") # SMS example

You can confirm the status of subscriptions using list_subscriptions:

##         Endpoint        Owner Protocol     SubscriptionArn
## 1 920667304251    email PendingConfirmation
##                                       TopicArn
## 1 arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:920667304251:TestTopic

Subscriptions need to be confirmed by the endpoint. For example, an SMS endpoint will require an SMS response to an subscription invitation message. Subscriptions can be removed using unsubscribe (or whatever method is described in the invitation message); thus subscriptions can be handled by both users and administrator (you).

The endpoint will then receive a confirmation message, like the following, to confirm the subscription:

Email confirmation message
Email confirmation message

If they accept the invitation, the user will receive a confirmation of their subscription:

Subscription confirmation screen
Subscription confirmation screen

To publish a message, use publish:

publish(topic = topic, message = "This is a test message!", subject = "Hello!")
## [1] "f4150164-b522-592f-ac6f-50b4dabbb55e"
## attr(,"RequestId")
## [1] "b94b8a69-66e1-55ed-b786-dbb90978399c"

By default, the message is sent to all platforms:

Example message
Example message

This may not be ideal if multiple dissimilar endpoints are subscribed to the same topic (e.g., SMS and email). This can be resolved by maintaining separate Topics or, more easily, by sending different messages to each type of endpoint:

msgs <- list()
msgs$default = "This is the default message." # required
msgs$email = "This is a test email that will be sent to email addresses only."
msgs$sms = "This is a test SMS that will be sent to phone numbers only."
msgs$http = "This is a test message that will be sent to http URLs only."
publish(topic = topic, message = msgs, subject = "Hello!")
## [1] "ff5300ee-8440-5611-9cd2-513eebd9ba60"
## attr(,"RequestId")
## [1] "460f2808-ea90-5d67-92eb-79d885095116"

In addition to the standard endpoints (“http”, “https”, “email”, “email-json”, “sms”, “sqs”, “application”), it is possible to create endpoints for mobile platform applications. See the SNS Developer Guide for further details.

It is also possible to give other AWS accounts permission to view or publish to a topic using add_permission. For example, you may want to have multiple administrators who share responsibility for publishing messages to the topic. Permissions can be revoked using remove_permission.


Travis Build Status

This package is not yet on CRAN. To install the latest development version you can install from the cloudyr drat repository:

# latest stable version
install.packages("aws.sns", repos = c(cloudyr = "", getOption("repos")))

Or, to pull a potentially unstable version directly from GitHub:


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