Hello World - R server

A simple web app created with R package, plumber. plumber creates a REST API by adding annotations to your R code. The R script reads an environment variable TARGET and prints Hello ${TARGET}!. If the TARGET environment variable is not specified, the script uses World.

Follow the steps below to create the sample code and then deploy the app to your cluster. You can also download a working copy of the sample, by running the following commands:

git clone -b "release-0.23" https://github.com/knative/docs knative-docs
cd knative-docs/docs/serving/samples/hello-world/helloworld-r

Before you begin

  • A Kubernetes cluster with Knative installed. Follow the installation instructions if you need to create one.
  • Docker installed and running on your local machine, and a Docker Hub account configured (we’ll use it for a container registry).

Recreating the sample code

  1. Create a new file named HelloWorld.R and paste the following script:

    #' HelloWorld function
    #' @get /
    #' @html
    function() {
      TARGET <- Sys.getenv("TARGET", "World")
      message = paste("Hello ", TARGET, "!", sep = "")

    This file defines the endpoint /, using plumber annotations.

    1. Create a new file named server.R and paste the following code:

      library(plumber) # https://www.rplumber.io/
      # Translate the HelloWorld file into a Plumber API
      r <- plumb("HelloWorld.R")
      # Get the PORT env var
      PORT <- strtoi(Sys.getenv("PORT", 8080))
      # Run the API
      r$run(port=PORT, host="")
    2. Create a new file named Dockerfile and paste the following code:

      # The official R base image
      # https://hub.docker.com/_/r-base
      FROM r-base:3.6.0
      # Copy local code to the container image.
      WORKDIR /usr/src/app
      COPY . .
      # Install R packages
      RUN Rscript -e "install.packages('plumber', repos='http://cran.us.r-project.org/')"
      # Run the web service on container startup.
      CMD ["Rscript", "server.R"]
  2. Create a new file, service.yaml and copy the following service definition into the file. Make sure to replace {username} with your Docker Hub username.

    apiVersion: serving.knative.dev/v1
    kind: Service
      name: helloworld-rserver
      namespace: default
          - image: docker.io/{username}/helloworld-rserver
            - name: TARGET
              value: "R Server Sample v1"

Building and deploying the sample

Once you have recreated the sample code files (or used the files in the sample folder) you’re ready to build and deploy the sample app.

  1. Use Docker to build the sample code into a container. To build and push with Docker Hub, run these commands replacing {username} with your Docker Hub username:

    # Build the container on your local machine
    docker build -t {username}/helloworld-rserver .
    # Push the container to docker registry
    docker push {username}/helloworld-rserver
  2. After the build has completed and the container is pushed to docker hub, you can deploy the app into your cluster. Ensure that the container image value in service.yaml matches the container you built in the previous step. Apply the configuration using kubectl:

    kubectl apply --filename service.yaml
  3. Now that your service is created, Knative performs the following steps:

    • Create a new immutable revision for this version of the app.
    • Network programming to create a route, ingress, service, and load balance for your app.
    • Automatically scale your pods up and down (including to zero active pods).
  4. Run the following command to find the domain URL for your service:

    kubectl get ksvc helloworld-r  --output=custom-columns=NAME:.metadata.name,URL:.status.url


    NAME                URL
    helloworld-r    http://helloworld-r.default.
  5. Now you can make a request to your app and see the result. Replace the URL below with the URL returned in the previous command.

    curl http://helloworld-rserver.default.


    curl http://helloworld-rserver.default.
    [1] "Hello R Sample v1!"

    Note: Add -v option to get more detail if the curl command failed.

Removing the sample app deployment

To remove the sample app from your cluster, delete the service record:

kubectl delete --filename service.yaml