[R] A read.table mystery (data for Filemaker Mac)

Mark Wardle mark at wardle.org
Sat Oct 13 11:49:35 CEST 2007

On 12/10/2007, Emmanuel Charpentier <charpent at bacbuc.dyndns.org> wrote:
> Mark Wardle a écrit :
> > 1. Which version of Filemaker? NB: Framemaker is a different program
> > (desktop publishing), so do be a little precise!
> Dunno. The file is named "export.fm7" ; one might be tempted to infer
> Filemaker 7.

Probably: Filemaker 7 or later, as newer versions share the same file format.

> "Framemaker" is a typo....
> > 2. If it is an ancient version, then I suggest exporting a block of
> > columns at a time, and then using merge() in R to join it all back up
> Not an option : I do not make the export myself, and I do not have
> Filemaker on any machine I can lay my hands on...

So you can't ask the person doing the export to do this?

I have to say I have no problem exporting data from Filemaker 7 and
above - with no size limitations. Mind you, you may not believe me,
but one very good way of doing export is to export as HTML, and then
import into Excel.

> > 3. I store all my clinical data in Filemaker 8.5 on the Mac. It is
> > great. There have been no significant data export or import issues.
> Except for date formats (DD/MM/YYYY in lieu of YYYY-MM-DD), numeric
> values (comma as decimal mark) and character set (something looking like
> Latin-1 in lieu of utf8). <Sigh ...>

Weird. My numeric values aren't exported like that! I can get dates
converted easily?

> > One problem (with this version - may be fixed in 9.0) is that
> > Filemaker ODBC drivers are pretty dreadful and so I do not use ODBC to
> > access the data held in a Filemaker database. However, Filemaker's
> > client ODBC access works fine, and, in conjunction with some
> > commercial ODBC drivers for PostgreSQL, export my data into
> > postgresql, and then from there import data into R. It is fast and
> > works very well, albeit in a rather convoluted fashion!
> That would be a (good !) option if both the "data producer" and me had
> access to a common database server. It turns out not to be the case
> (alas...).
> As a general comment, I fpound the combination of a DBMS (Postgres in my
> case), an ODBC-able front end (OOo base, MS-Access, Filemaker : pîck
> ypouir poison...) and R a very good working setup. I use it every time I
> can. However, in this case, that's pipedream...

If you wish, I would be happy to look at your FP7 file and see what
the problem is.

Best wishes,


Dr. Mark Wardle
Specialist registrar, Neurology
Cardiff, UK

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