Error: Can’t rename columns that don’t exist.

Error: Can’t rename columns that don’t exist., In this article, you’ll discover how to replicate and diagnose the R programming error “Error: Can’t rename columns that don’t exist.”

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Example Data Generation

For this R programming tutorial, we’ll start with the following data.

df <- data.frame(X = 5:1,
         Y= letters[1:5])
df                                            
  X Y
1 5 a
2 4 b
3 3 c
4 2 d
5 1 e

Approach 1: Reproduce the Error: Columns that don’t exist can’t be renamed.

We’ll show you how to recreate the “Error: Can’t rename columns that don’t exist.” in R in this example.

First, we need to install and load the plyr package first.

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#install.packages("plyr")                         
library("plyr") 
#install.packages("dplyr")                         
library("dplyr")                                  

Let’s say we wish to use the rename function to rename the column names in our data frame. Then we may try running the R code below.

df1<- rename(df, c("X" = "col1","Y" = "col2"))
Error: Can't rename columns that don't exist.
x Column `col1` doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, the “Error: Can’t rename columns that don’t exist.” message appears in the RStudio console.

The reason for this is that both plyr and dplyr provide a rename function.

Because we loaded the dplyr package last, the R programming language tries to use the dplyr package’s rename function.

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The preceding R code, on the other hand, is designed to use the plyr package’s rename function and hence returns an error notice.

Approach 2: Resolve the Error: Columns that do not exist cannot be renamed.

This example shows how to fix problems with the rename function, such as when R utilizes the wrong package’s rename function.

To ensure that we use the plyr package’s function, we must include the package’s name in front of the function, as seen below.

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df1<- plyr::rename(df, c("X" = "col1", 
                       "Y" = "col2"))
df1
   col1 col2
1    5    a
2    4    b
3    3    c
4    2    d
5    1    e

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We’ve constructed a new data frame with modified variable names, as displayed. There were no longer any error messages in the RStudio console.

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