How to avoid that anytime(<numeric>) “updates by reference”?

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I want to convert a numeric variable to POSIXct using anytime. My issue is that anytime(<numeric>) converts the input variable as well - I want to keep it.

Simple example:

library(anytime) t_num <- 1529734500 anytime(t_num) # POSIXct[1:1], format: "2018-06-23 08:15:00" t_num # [1] "2018-06-23 08:15:00 CEST" 

This differs from the 'non-update by reference' behaviour of as.POSIXct in base R:

t_num <- 1529734500 as.POSIXct(t_num, origin = "1970-01-01") # POSIXct[1:1], format: "2018-06-23 08:15:00" t_num # 1529734500 

I can't find an explicit description of this behaviour in ?anytime. I could use as.POSIXct as above, but does anyone know how to handle this within anytime?


anytime author here: this is standard R and Rcpp and passing-by-SEXP behaviour: you cannot protect a SEXP being passed from being changed.

The view that anytime takes is that you are asking for an input to be converted to a POSIXct as that is what anytime does: from char, from int, from factor, from anything. As a POSIXct really is a numeric value (plus a S3 class attribute) this is what you are getting.

If you do not want this (counter to the design of anytime) you can do what @Moody_Mudskipper and @PKumar showed: used a temporary expression (or variable).

(I also think the data.table example is a little unfair as data.table -- just like Rcpp -- is very explicit about taking references where it can. So of course it refers back to the original variable. There are idioms for deep copy if you need them.)

Lastly, an obvious trick is to use format if you just want different display:

R> d <- data.frame(t_num=1529734500) R> d[1, "posixct"] <- format(anytime::anytime(d[1, "t_num"])) R> d        t_num             posixct 1 1529734500 2018-06-23 01:15:00 R>  

That would work the same way in data.table, of course, as the string representation is a type change. Ditto for IDate / ITime.


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