[R] Reading newlines with read.table?

Allan Engelhardt allane at cybaea.com
Fri Jun 4 18:07:36 CEST 2010

I ended up pre-processing the files outside of R using a script along 
the lines of

for f in *_table_extract_*.txt; do
     echo -n "Processing $f..."
     iconv -f "UTF-16LE" -t "UTF-8" $f | \
         tail -c +4 | \
         perl -l012 -015 -pe 's/\n//g' | \
         perl -ne 'print if (!m{\A \( \d+ \s row\(s\) \s affected \) \s* 
\z}ixms && !m{\A \s* \z}xms)' | \
         xz -7 > $o
     echo "done."

Ugly, but it worked for me.  You can change the first perl regular 
expression to do different things with line terminating \n versus 
in-field \n characters but I just dropped them all.  The tail command 
drops the byte-order-mark (which we do not need for utf-8) and the 
second perl command drops blanks and a stupid SQL tool output.

Thanks to Prof. Brian Ripley who, essentially, pointed out that with 
embedded linefeed characters my file was a binary file and not really a 
text file.  Her Majesty's government respectfully begs to disagree [1] 
but that's the R definition so we'll use it on this list.


[1] Original data sets described at 
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_coins_data.htm and downloaded from 
http://data.gov.uk/dataset/coins (hint: you'll need p7zip to unpack them 
on a Linux box).

On 04/06/10 14:49, Allan Engelhardt wrote:
> I have a text file that is UTF-16LE encoded with CRLF line endings and 
> '@' as field separators that I want to read in R on a Linux system.  
> Which would be fine as
> read.table("foo.txt", file.encoding = "UTF-16LE", sep = "@", ...)
> *except* that the data may contain the LF character which R treats as 
> end-of-line and then barfs that there are too few elements on that line.
> Any suggestions for how to process this one efficiently in R?  [...]

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