lightr: import spectral data in R

Project Status: Active – The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed. Travis build status AppVeyor build status Coverage status DOI Under review at rOpenSci status

There is no standard file format for spectrometry data and different scientific instrumentation companies use wildly different formats to store spectral data. Vendor proprietary softwares sometimes have an option but convert those formats instead human readable files such as csv but in the process, most metadata are lost. However, those metadata are critical to ensure reproducibility (White et al, 2015).

This package aims at offering a unified user-friendly interface for users to read UV-VIS reflectance/transmittance/absorbance spectra files from various formats in a single line of code.

Additionally, it provides for the first time a fully free and open source solution to read proprietary spectra file formats on all systems.

πŸ”§ Installation

This package is not yet published on CRAN and must be installed via GitHub:

# install.packages("remotes")

πŸ’» Usage

A thorough documentation is available with the package, using R usual syntax ?function or help(function). However, users will probably mainly use two functions:

# Get a data.frame containing all useful metadata from spectra in a folder
lr_get_metadata(where = system.file("testdata/procspec_files", 
                                    package = "lightr"), 
                ext = "ProcSpec")


# Get a single dataframe where the first column contains the wavelengths and 
# the next columns contain a spectra each (pavo's rspec class)
lr_get_spec(where = system.file("testdata/procspec_files", package = "lightr"),
            ext = "ProcSpec")

lr_get_spec() returns a dataframe that is compatible with pavo custom S3 class (rspec) and can be used for further analyses using colour vision models.

All supported file formats can also be parsed using the lr_parse_$extension() function where $extension is the lowercase extension of your file. This family of functions return a list where the first element is the data dataframe and the second element is a vector with relevant metadata.

Only exceptions are .txt and .Transmission files because those extensions are too generic. Users will need to figure out which parser is appropriate in this case. lr_get_metadata() and lr_get_spec() automatically try generic parsers in this case.

Alternatively, you may simply want to convert your spectra in a readable standard format and carry on with your analysis with another software.

In this case, you can run:

# Convert every single ProcSpec file to a csv file with the same name and 
# location
lr_convert_tocsv(where = system.file("testdata/procspec_files", 
                                      package = "lightr"),
                 ext = "ProcSpec")

βœ” Supported file formats

This package is still under development but currently supports:


Extension Parser
jdx lr_parse_jdx()
ProcSpec lr_parse_procspec()
jaz lr_parse_jaz()
jazirrad lr_parse_jazirrad()
Transmission lr_parse_jaz()
txt lr_parse_jaz()


Extension Parser
ABS lr_parse_abs()
ROH lr_parse_roh()
TRM lr_parse_trm()
trt lr_parse_trt()
ttt lr_parse_ttt()
txt lr_parse_generic()


Extension Parser
txt lr_parse_generic()


Extension Parser
csv lr_parse_generic(sep = ",")
dpt lr_parse_generic(sep = ",")


As a fallback, you should always try lr_parse_generic() which offers a flexible and general algorithm that manages to extract data from most files.

If you can’t find the best parser for your specific file or if you believe you are using an unsupported format, please open an issue or send me an email.

🌐 Similar projects

To our knowledge, lightr is the only gratis tool to import some complex file formats such as Avantes binary files or OceanOptics .ProcSpec. Because of its user-friendly high-levels functions and low dependency philosophy, lightr may also hopefully prove useful for people working with other languages than R.