R Interface to 'Apache Tika'

Extract text or metadata from over a thousand file types, using Apache Tika < https://tika.apache.org/>. Get either plain text or structured XHTML content.

Extract text or metadata from over a thousand file types.

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For most of the more common and popular formats, Tika then provides content extraction, metadata extraction and language identification capabilities. (From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Tika, accessed Jan 18, 2018)

This is an R interface to the Tika software.


To start, you need R and Java 8 or OpenJDK 1.8. Higher versions work. To check your version, run the command java -version from a terminal. Get Java installation tips at https://www.java.com/en/download/ or http://openjdk.java.net/install/. Because the rJava package is not required, installation is simple. You can cut and paste the following snippet:

install.packages('rtika', repos = 'https://cloud.r-project.org')

Read an introductory article at https://ropensci.github.io/rtika/articles/rtika_introduction.html.

Key Features

  • tika_text() to extract plain text.
  • tika_xml() and tika_html() to get a structured XHMTL rendition.
  • tika_json() to get metadata as .json, with XHMTL content.
  • tika_json_text() to get metadata as .json, with plain text content.
  • tika() is the main function the others above inherit from.
  • tika_fetch() to download files with a file extension matching the Content-Type.

Supported File Types

Tika parses and extracts text or metadata from over one thousand digital formats, including:

  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Microsoft Office document formats (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Electronic Publication Format (.epub)
  • Image formats (.jpeg, .png, etc.)
  • Mail formats (.mbox, Outlook)
  • HyperText Markup Language (.html)
  • XML and derived formats (.xml, etc.)
  • Compression and packaging formats (.gzip, .rar, etc.)
  • OpenDocument Format
  • iWorks document formats
  • WordPerfect document formats
  • Text formats
  • Feed and Syndication formats
  • Help formats
  • Audio formats
  • Video formats
  • Java class files and archives
  • Source code
  • CAD formats
  • Font formats
  • Scientific formats
  • Executable programs and libraries
  • Crypto formats

For a list of MIME types, see the list for a recent version of Tika: https://tika.apache.org/1.19.1/formats.html

Get Plain Text

The rtika package processes batches of documents efficiently, so I recommend batches. Currently, the tika() parsers take a tiny bit of time to spin up, and that will get annoying with hundreds of separate calls to the functions.

# Test files
batch <- c(
  system.file("extdata", "jsonlite.pdf", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "curl.pdf", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "table.docx", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "xml2.pdf", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "R-FAQ.html", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "calculator.jpg", package = "rtika"),
  system.file("extdata", "tika.apache.org.zip", package = "rtika")
# batches are best, and can also be piped with magrittr.
text <- tika_text(batch)
# text has one string for each document:
#> [1] 7
# A snippet:
cat(substr(text[1], 54, 190)) 
#> Package ‘jsonlite’
#> June 1, 2017
#> Version 1.5
#> Title A Robust, High Performance JSON Parser and Generator for R
#> License MIT + file LICENSE

To learn more and find out how to extract structured text and metadata, read the vignette: https://ropensci.github.io/rtika/articles/rtika_introduction.html.


Tika also integrates with the Tesseract OCR program, which extracts plain text from images of text. If Tesseract is installed, Tika will automatically use it for images and PDFs that contain images of text. To get that working, follow the Tesseract installation instructions. The next time Tika is run, it should detect Tesseract. Alternately, you may try the tesseract package by @jeroen, which is a R interface to the required program and has several installation methods.

The Apache Tika community welcomes your feedback. Issues regarding the R interface should be raised at the rTika Github Issue Tracker. If you are confident the issue concerns Tika or one of its underlying parsers, use the Tika Bugtracking System.

Using the Tika App Directly

If your project or package needs to use the Tika App .jar, you can include rTika as a dependency and call the rtika::tika_jar() function to get the path to the Tika app installed on the system.

Similar R Packages

The are a number of specialized parsers that overlap in functionality. For example, the pdftools package extracts metadata and text from PDF files, the antiword package extracts text from recent versions of Word, and the epubr package by @leonawicz processes epub files. These packages do not depend on Java, while rTika does.

The big difference between Tika and a specialized parser is that Tika integrates dozens of specialist libraries maintained by the Apache Foundation. Apache Tika processes over a thousand file types and multiple versions of each. This eases the processing of digital archives that contain unpredictable files. For example, researchers use Tika to process archives from court cases, governments, or the Internet Archive that span multiple years. These archives frequently contain diverse formats and multiple versions of each format. Because Tika finds the matching parser for each individual file, is well suited to diverse sets of documents. In general, the parsing quality is good and consistently so. In contrast, specialized parsers may only work with a particular version of a file, or require extra tinkering.

On the other hand, a specialized library can offer more control and features when it comes to structured data and formatting. For example, the tabulizer package by @leeper and @tpaskhalis includes bindings to the 'Tabula PDF Table Extractor Library'. Because PDF files store tables as a series of positions with no obvious boundaries between data cells, extracting a data.frame or matrix requires heuristics and customization which that package provides. To be fair to Tika, there are some formats where rtika will extract data as table-like XML. For example, with Word and Excel documents, Tika extracts simple tables as XHTML data that can be turned into a tabular data.frame using the rvest::html_table() function.


In September 2017, github.com user kyusque released tikaR, which uses the rJava package to interact with Tika (See: https://github.com/kyusque/tikaR). As of writing, it provided similar text and metadata extraction, but only xml output.

Back in March 2012, I started a similar project to interface with Apache Tika. My code also used low-level functions from the rJava package. I halted development after discovering that the Tika command line interface (CLI) was easier to use. My empty repository is at https://r-forge.r-project.org/projects/r-tika/.

I chose to finally develop this package after getting excited by Tika's new 'batch processor' module, written in Java. The batch processor has very good efficiency when processing tens of thousands of documents. Further, it is not too slow for a single document either, and handles errors gracefully. Connecting R to the Tika batch processor turned out to be relatively simple, because the R code is simple. It uses the CLI to point Tika to the files. Simplicity, along with continuous testing, should ease integration. I anticipate that some researchers will need plain text output, while others will want json output. Some will want multiple processing threads to speed things up. These features are now implemented in rtika, although apparently not in tikaR yet.

Code of Conduct

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.



rtika 1.20 (2019-02-26)


* Updated Tika to 1.20
* Includes two config files to either turn on or off OCR. This is only relevant on Linux variants that have the Tesseract OCR engine installed.


* Created a workaround because normalizePath() on Windows produced inconsistent results. 

rtika 1.19.1 (2018-07-08)


* Updated Tika to 1.19.1.
* Updated the 'sys' package integration, and Jeroen informed the Tika team of an unexpected method of interprocess communication in the batch processor.

rtika 1.1.19 (2018-07-08)


  • The new java() function is used get the command to invoke Java for all tika() functions, and allows the option of changing its value across sessions. If you want to use a particular installation of Java, set the JAVA_HOME variable using the Sys.setenv(JAVA_HOME = 'my path'). The java() function will check for this variable, and if found return it instead of the default 'java' invocation.
  • Updated to Tika version 1.19.


  • The tika_check function now uses the more advance SHA512 checksum instead of the MD5. To implement this, the 'digest' package is now a dependency.

rtika 0.1.8 (2018-04-25)


  • The install_tika() function now gets the Tika 1.18 release that came out 2018-04-24, instead of the 1.18 development version.

rtika 0.1.7 (2018-03-08)


  • The new install_tika() function allows this package to be distributed on CRAN. The Tika App jar was too large to go on CRAN directly. The .jar is installed in the directory determined by the rappdirs::user_data_dir() function.
  • The .onLoad() function now gives various installation advice when starting up.


  • Removed the .jar in favor of the install_tika() function.

rtika 0.1.6 (2018-03-01)


  • tika(), tika_xml(), tika_json(), tika_text(), and tika_html() have a new downloader, which preserve the server's content-type encoding as a file extension when possible. This should help Tika identify and parse downloaded files more reliably. It depends on the 'curl' package.
  • Added tika_fetch(), which is a stand alone function to download files and append a file extension matching the content type declared by the server. Additional features for this function include specifying the number of download retries. The output of tika_fetch() can be piped directly into other tika functions.
  • New introductory vignette covers how to use the functions and surveys several applications.
  • tika(), tika_xml(), tika_json(), tika_text(), and tika_html() can now be set to return=FALSE, which does not return any R character vector but invisibly returns NULL. This would be most useful in massive file conversion jobs with hundreds of thousands of files.
  • Used pkgdown to create a website for github pages.
  • New tika_json_text() function gets metadata in .json with plain text content.


  • Previous vignette has been removed in favor of new one.
  • The tikajar package is not required in this version. Moved the .jar file back into this package to ease installation until I hear from CRAN.

rtika 0.1.5 (2018-02-15)


  • Added dependency on 'sys' package because the 'system2' function was causing intermittent errors by ending tika in mid process.
  • Added startup check of the java version, using .onLoad() call to 'java -version'
  • Removed redundant conversion to UTF-8, because the Tika batch routine is already outputting UTF-8.
  • Increased the speed of building packages (fewer downloads needed for testing, and the examples do not run).
  • Added Code of Conduct to CONDUCT.md file
  • Set default 'cleanup' attribute to TRUE.

rtika 0.1.4 (2018-02-15)


  • Because it is too big for CRAN, removed the Tika .jar file.
  • Added the Tika .jar to a new tikajar package on github.
  • Put the ropensci review badge on the tikajar package also, since its an essential component of this package.
  • Updated DESCRIPTION, documentation and .travis.yml to reflect the new installation routine.

rtika 0.1.3 (2018-02-04)


  • added convenience functions that advertise output format: tika_xml(), tika_json(), tika_text(), tika_html().


  • README examples use magrittr pipe.

rtika 0.1.2 (2018-01-30)


  • added many tests to increase code coverage dramatically.
  • integrated the covr package.


  • for Windows users, the curl package is recommended to prevent base R download.file from corrupting files.


  • removed the n_chars parameter in favor of using file.size() internally.
  • removed onLoad.R that checked java version in order to speed package loading and simplify code coverage testing.

rtika 0.1.1 (2018-01-23)


  • allows the user to input the URLs and file paths of documents. URLs will be downloaded first to a temporary directory. The previous interface has been changed.


  • the Tika License file is included in the source.
  • added a vignette on basic text processing using the library.

rtika 0.1.0 (2018-01-19)


  • Initial release.
  • R interface to Apache Tika batch processing CLI, found to be the most efficient CLI option.
  • tika function returns processing results as a character vector.
  • includes the Tika App .jar. Tika source is available at: https://github.com/apache/tika

Reference manual

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1.20 by Sasha Goodman, 20 days ago


Report a bug at http://github.com/ropensci/rtika/issues

Browse source code at https://github.com/cran/rtika

Authors: Sasha Goodman [aut, cre] , The Apache Software Foundation [aut, cph] , Julia Silge [rev] (Reviewed the package for rOpenSci , see https://github.com/ropensci/onboarding/issues/191) , David Gohel [rev] (Reviewed the package for rOpenSci , see https://github.com/ropensci/onboarding/issues/191)

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

Apache License 2.0 | file LICENSE license

Imports curl, sys, stats, utils, rappdirs, digest

Suggests jsonlite, xml2, testthat, knitr, rmarkdown, covr, magrittr

System requirements: Java (>=8)

See at CRAN