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readr 0.2.0

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readr now has a strategy for dealing with settings that vary from place to place: locales. The default locale is still US centric (because R itself is), but you can now easily override the default timezone, decimal separator, grouping mark, day & month names, date format, and encoding. This has lead to a number of changes:

  • read_csv(), read_tsv(), read_fwf(), read_table(),
    read_lines(), read_file(), type_convert(), parse_vector()
    all gain a locale argument.
  • locale() controls all the input settings that vary from place-to-place.
  • col_euro_double() and parse_euro_double() have been deprecated.
    Use the decimal_mark parameter to locale() instead.
  • The default encoding is now UTF-8. To load files that are not
    in UTF-8, set the encoding parameter of the locale() (#40).
    New guess_encoding() function uses stringi to help you figure out the
    encoding of a file.
  • parse_datetime() and parse_date() with %B and %b use the
    month names (full and abbreviate) defined in the locale (#242).
    They also inherit the tz from the locale, rather than using an
    explicit tz parameter.

See vignette("locales") for more details.

File parsing improvements

  • cols() lets you pick the default column type for columns not otherwise
    explicitly named (#148). You can refer to parsers either with their full
    name (e.g. col_character()) or their one letter abbreviation (e.g. c).
  • cols_only() allows you to load only named columns. You can also choose to
    override the default column type in cols() (#72).
  • read_fwf() is now much more careful with new lines. If a line is too short,
    you'll get a warning instead of a silent mistake (#166, #254). Additionally,
    the last column can now be ragged: the width of the last field is silently
    extended until it hits the next line break (#146). This appears to be a
    common feature of "fixed" width files in the wild.
  • In read_csv(), read_tsv(), read_delim() etc:
    • comment argument allows you to ignore comments (#68).
    • trim_ws argument controls whether leading and trailing whitespace is
      removed. It defaults to TRUE (#137).
    • Specifying the wrong number of column names, or having rows with an
      unexpected number of columns, generates a warning, rather than an error
    • Multiple NA values can be specified by passing a character vector to
      na (#125). The default has been changed to na = c("", "NA"). Specifying
      na = "" now works as expected with character columns (#114).

Column parsing improvements

Readr gains vignette("column-types") which describes how the defaults work and how to override them (#122).

  • parse_character() gains better support for embedded nulls: any characters
    after the first null are dropped with a warning (#202).
  • parse_integer() and parse_double() no longer silently ignore trailing
    letters after the number (#221).
  • New parse_time() and col_time() allows you to parse times (hours, minutes,
    seconds) into number of seconds since midnight. If the format is omitted, it
    uses a flexible parser that looks for hours, then optional colon, then
    minutes, then optional colon, then optional seconds, then optional am/pm
  • parse_date() and parse_datetime():
    • parse_datetime() no longer incorrectly reads partial dates (e.g. 19,
      1900, 1900-01) (#136). These triggered common false positives and after
      re-reading the ISO8601 spec, I believe they actually refer to periods of
      time, and should not be translated in to a specific instant (#228).
    • Compound formats "%D", "%F", "%R", "%X", "%T", "%x" are now parsed
      correctly, instead of using the ISO8601 parser (#178, @kmillar).
    • "%." now requires a non-digit. New "%+" skips one or more non-digits.
    • You can now use %p to refer to AM/PM (and am/pm) (#126).
    • %b and %B formats (month and abbreviated month name) ignore case
      when matching (#219).
    • Local (non-UTC) times with and without daylight savings are now parsed
      correctly (#120, @Andres-S).
  • parse_number() is a somewhat flexible numeric parser designed to read
    currencies and percentages. It only reads the first number from a string
    (using the grouping mark defined by the locale).
  • parse_numeric() has been deprecated because the name is confusing -
    it's a flexible number parser, not a parser of "numerics", as R collectively
    calls doubles and integers. Use parse_number() instead.

As well as improvements to the parser, I've also made a number of tweaks to the heuristics that readr uses to guess column types:

  • New parse_guess() and col_guess() to explicitly guess column type.
  • Bumped up row inspection for column typing guessing from 100 to 1000.
  • The heuristics for guessing col_integer() and col_double() are stricter.
    Numbers with leading zeros now default to being parsed as text, rather than
    as integers/doubles (#266).
  • A column is guessed as col_number() only if it parses as a regular number
    when you ignoring the grouping marks.

Minor improvements and bug fixes

  • Now use R's platform independent iconv wrapper, thanks to BDR (#149).
  • Pathological zero row inputs (due to empty input, skip or n_max) now
    return zero row data frames (#119).
  • When guessing field types, and there's no information to go on, use
    character instead of logical (#124, #128).
  • Concise col_types specification now understands ? (guess) and
    - (skip) (#188).
  • count_fields() starts counting from 1, not 0 (#200).
  • format_csv() and format_delim() make it easy to render a csv or
    delimited file into a string.
  • fwf_empty() now works correctly when col_names supplied (#186, #222).
  • parse_*() gains a na argument that allows you to specify which values
    should be converted to missing.
  • problems() now reports column names rather than column numbers (#143).
    Whenever there is a problem, the first five problems are printing out
    in a warning message, so you can more easily see what's wrong.
  • read_*() throws a warning instead of an error is col_types
    specifies a non-existent column (#145, @alyst).
  • read_*() can read from a remote gz compressed file (#163).
  • read_delim() defaults to escape_backslash = FALSE and
    escape_double = TRUE for consistency. n_max also affects the number
    of rows read to guess the column types (#224).
  • read_lines() gains a progress bar. It now also correctly checks for
    interrupts every 500,000 lines so you can interrupt long running jobs.
    It also correctly estimates the number of lines in the file, considerably
    speeding up the reading of large files (60s -> 15s for a 1.5 Gb file).
  • read_lines_raw() allows you to read a file into a list of raw vectors,
    one element for each line.
  • type_convert() gains NA and trim_ws arguments, and removes missing
    values before determining column types.
  • write_csv(), write_delim(), and write_rds() all invisably return their
    input so you can use them in a pipe (#290).
  • write_delim() generalises write_csv() to write any delimited format (#135).
    write_tsv() is a helpful wrapper for tab separated files.
    • Quotes are only used when they're needed (#116): when the string contains
      a quote, the delimiter, a new line or NA.
    • Double vectors are saved using same amount of precision as
      as.character() (#117).
    • New na argument that specifies how missing values should be written
    • POSIXt vectors are saved in a ISO8601 compatible format (#134).
    • No longer fails silently if it can't open the target for
      writing (#193, #172).
  • write_rds() and read_rds() wrap around readRDS() and saveRDS(),
    defaulting to no compression (#140, @nicolasCoutin).