Contango Contango - 1 month ago 18
R Question

In R, is it possible to redirect console output to a variable?

In R, I'm wondering if it's possible to temporarily redirect the output of the console to a variable?

p.s. There are a few examples on the web on how to use sink() to redirect the output into a filename, but none that I could find showing how to redirect into a variable.

p.p.s. The reason this is useful, in practice, is that I need to print out a portion of the default console output from some of the built in functions in R.

Answer

I believe results <- capture.output(...) is what you need (i.e. using the default file=NULL argument). sink(textConnection("results")); ...; sink() should work as well, but as ?capture.output says, capture.output() is:

Related to ‘sink’ in the same way that ‘with’ is related to ‘attach’.

... which suggests that capture.output() will generally be better since it is more contained (i.e. you don't have to remember to terminate the sink()).

If you want to send the output of multiple statements to a variable you can wrap them in curly brackets {}, but if the block is sufficiently complex it might be better to use sink() (or make your code more modular by wrapping it in functions).