[R] gene name problem in Excel, and an R analogue

Erich Neuwirth erich.neuwirth at univie.ac.at
Wed Sep 14 07:54:44 CEST 2016

Since many people commenting on the gene name problem in Excel essentially tell us
This could never have happened with R
I want to show you a somewhat related issue:

ff1 <- tempfile()
cat(file = ff1, "12345", "1E002", sep = "\n")
xdf1 <- read.fwf(ff1, widths = 5, stringsAsFactors=FALSE)

ff2 <- tempfile()
cat(file = ff2, "12345", "1E002","1A010", sep = "\n")
xdf2 <- read.fwf(ff2, widths = 5, stringsAsFactors=FALSE)

in xdf1, the variable is numeric, in xdf2, it is a character variable.
Of course, in hindsight this makes sense. But the problem is similar to the
Excel problem where something which could be a date is interpreted as a date.

A possible solution with my read.fwf problem would be to have a parameter
forcing variables to be read as strings.

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