Examining the content of RData Files (and multiple R environments)

Want to see the contents of an RData file without modifying your current environment?

We’ve discussed the usefulness and efficiency of the RData structure in previous posts. Unlike a CSV file, the RData structure allows you to store multiple multidimensional variables in a single file. But what if you want to view the contents of these files later?

Loading an RData file will add variables to your current R environment. In an existing project, you might want to just view the contents, but not load the variables which may overwrite other current environmental variables.

R Environments

The solution? Open the RData file into a new “environment” within your current R environment. A R environment consists of all the objects (function, variables, etc.) which represents a virtual space. The environment that is loaded when you start and R project is known as the “Global” environment. You can check what environment you are in by running the environment() command.

Loading the RData structure into a new environment

RDataFile <- "your_data_file.RData"

# Load RData file into new environemtn
load(file.path(RDataFile), new_environment <- new.env() )
 # List all of the variable names in RData:

The new environment variable, new_environment, is essentially an object that contains all the structures within your RData file and can be accessed via typical R commands (i.e. $).

This code could easily be adapted into a GUI application for quick viewing of RData structures.

Ernest Pedapati, M.D., M.S.
Ernest Pedapati, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Physician and Neuroscientist interested in neurodevelopmental conditions.