read.dbf {foreign}R Documentation

Read a DBF File


The function reads a DBF file into a data frame, converting character fields to factors, and trying to respect NULL fields.


read.dbf(file, = FALSE)


file name of input file should character vectors not be converted to factors?


DBF is the extension used for files written for the ‘XBASE’ family of database languages, ‘covering the dBase, Clipper, FoxPro, and their Windows equivalents Visual dBase, Visual Objects, and Visual FoxPro, plus some older products’ ( Most of these follow the file structure used by Ashton-Tate's dBase II, III or 4 (later owned by Borland).

read.dbf is based on C code from which implements the ‘XBASE’ specification. It can convert fields of type "L" (logical), "N" and "F" (numeric and float) and "D" (dates): all other field types are read as-is as character vectors. A numeric field are read as an R integer vector if it is encoded to have no decimals, otherwise as a numeric vector. However, if the numbers are too large to fit into an integer vector, it is changed to numeric. Note that is possible to read integers that cannot be represented exactly even as doubles: this sometimes occurs if IDs are incorrectly coded as numeric.


A data frame of data from the DBF file; note that the field names are adjusted to use in R using make.names(unique=TRUE).
There is an attribute "data_type" giving the single-character dBase types for each field.


Nicholas Lewin-Koh and Roger Bivand; shapelib by Frank Warmerdam


The Borland file specification via

See Also



x <- read.dbf(system.file("files/sids.dbf", package="foreign")[1])

[Package foreign version 0.8-20 Index]