Updating the Deprecated Method: A Guide to Setting Row Names in Tibble

As a developer working with R and the tibble package, you may have encountered the deprecated method of setting row names in a tibble. In this guide, we'll walk you through how to update your code and set row names using the new, recommended method. We'll also provide answers to some frequently asked questions about working with tibbles in R.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Tibble
  2. Deprecated Method for Setting Row Names
  3. Recommended Method for Setting Row Names
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction to Tibble

A tibble (or tbl_df) is a modern version of a data frame in R, provided by the tibble package. Tibbles are designed to work seamlessly with other tidyverse packages like dplyr, ggplot2, and tidyr. Tibbles have some key advantages over traditional data frames, including:

  • Improved printing: Tibbles only display the first 10 rows and the columns that fit on the screen.
  • Column data types: Tibbles are more strict about preserving data types when subsetting.
  • Subsetting: Tibbles do not automatically drop dimensions when subsetting, unlike data frames.

To learn more about tibbles, check out the official tibble documentation.

Deprecated Method for Setting Row Names

In previous versions of the tibble package, you could set row names using the rownames argument in the as_tibble() function or by assigning the row names directly to the tibble using the rownames() function. However, these methods have been deprecated, and you may see a warning message like this:

Warning message:
Setting row names on a tibble is deprecated.

Here's an example of the deprecated method:


# Deprecated method
my_tibble <- as_tibble(mtcars, rownames = "car_name")

# Deprecated method
rownames(my_tibble) <- rownames(mtcars)

To set row names in a tibble, you should now add a new column to the tibble containing the row names. You can do this using the rownames_to_column() function from the tibble package.

Here's an example of how to set row names using the recommended method:


# Recommended method
my_tibble <- rownames_to_column(mtcars, var = "car_name")

# Verify row names have been added as a new column

This will add a new column called "car_name" to the tibble, containing the row names from the original data frame.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I remove row names from a tibble?

To remove row names from a tibble, you can simply drop the column containing the row names using the select() function from the dplyr package:


my_tibble_no_rownames <- my_tibble %>%

2. How do I convert a tibble back to a data frame?

To convert a tibble back to a data frame, you can use the as.data.frame() function:

my_dataframe <- as.data.frame(my_tibble)

3. How do I subset a tibble by row name?

To subset a tibble by row name, you can use the filter() function from the dplyr package:


subset_tibble <- my_tibble %>%
  filter(car_name == "Mazda RX4")

4. How do I rename columns in a tibble?

To rename columns in a tibble, you can use the rename() function from the dplyr package:


renamed_tibble <- my_tibble %>%
  rename(new_column_name = old_column_name)

5. How do I join two tibbles by row name?

To join two tibbles by row name, first make sure both tibbles have a column containing the row names. Then, use the left_join(), right_join(), inner_join(), or full_join() functions from the dplyr package, depending on your desired join type:


tibble1 <- rownames_to_column(mtcars, var = "car_name")
tibble2 <- rownames_to_column(mtcars, var = "car_name")

joined_tibbles <- left_join(tibble1, tibble2, by = "car_name")

For more information on joins in R, check out the official dplyr documentation.

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