Jeff Allen Jeff Allen - 3 months ago 33
R Question

Create an empty data.frame

I'm trying to initialize a data.frame without any rows. Basically, I want to specify the data types for each column and name them, but not have any rows created as a result.

The best I've been able to do so far is something like:

df <- data.frame(Date=as.Date("01/01/2000", format="%m/%d/%Y"),
File="", User="", stringsAsFactors=FALSE)
df <- df[-1,]


Which creates a data.frame with a single row containing all of the data types and column names I wanted, but also creates a useless row which then needs to be removed.

Is there a better way to do this?

Answer

Just initialize it with empty vectors:

df <- data.frame(Date=as.Date(character()),
                 File=character(), 
                 User=character(), 
                 stringsAsFactors=FALSE) 

Here's an other example with different column types :

df <- data.frame(Doubles=double(),
                 Ints=integer(),
                 Factors=factor(),
                 Logicals=logical(),
                 Characters=character(),
                 stringsAsFactors=FALSE)

str(df)
> str(df)
'data.frame':   0 obs. of  5 variables:
 $ Doubles   : num 
 $ Ints      : int 
 $ Factors   : Factor w/ 0 levels: 
 $ Logicals  : logi 
 $ Characters: chr 

N.B. :

Initializing a data.frame with an empty column of the wrong type does not prevent further additions of rows having columns of different types.
This method is just a bit safer in the sense that you'll have the correct column types from the beginning, hence if your code relies on some column type checking, it will work even with a data.frame with zero rows.