[R] OT: batch processing XLS files to CSV

From: Chris Evans <chris_at_psyctc.org>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 18:52:21 +0100

Dear R gurus, particularly those of generous M$ tolerance and diverse gifts and knowledge!

I have an interesting challenge that I will end up crunching in R involving service usage by patients. Maybe I can do all of it in R but I can't see how yet.

My situation is that our IT Department can give me loads of XLS files about patients one of our services have seen. The are one per patient per time period. All the data are in the first sheet of the XLS files and that sheet contains four variable length but fixed format matrices of data:
1) demographics (actually, this is fixed length, one row!); 2) community contacts with services, variable length, rarely zero rows but could be;
3) inpatient admissions, variable length, often zero rows; and CPA information (don't ask what that is!), two rows, fixed format, just to make things tricky, they're spearated by a fixed few junk rows in the xls files. The column format of each block is different.

Each block starts with standard label rows so it will be easy to identify these start points and know the format on the rows that follow each one. I could use perl to scan for these and then read the zero to many lines of the data in the matrix and end on finding the next header.

I would be fairly happy to do this with perl but would need to convert the xls (xls 2002) files to CSV to get at them in Perl (I think).

Anyone out there done anything like this and can give me any advice? I'm sorry, I'm sure there are more specific lists or web resources but I think the skills are here too and if someone can tell me how to do this all in R, I'd be fascinated.

Many thanks,


Chris Evans <chris_at_psyctc.org> Skype: chris-psyctc
Professor of Psychotherapy, Nottingham University;
Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Notts PDD network;
Research Programmes Director, Nottinghamshire NHS Trust;

*If I am writing from one of those roles, it will be clear. Otherwise*
*my views are my own and not representative of those institutions *
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Received on Thu 29 May 2008 - 08:41:50 GMT

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