Consider the following dataset:

dat = Dataset[<| "A" -> 1, "B" -> 2|>];
ExportString[dat, "CSV"]

It exports perfectly, with the expected result:

(* "A",1
   "B",2 *)

The above also works fine if the cells of the dataset are strings:

dat = Dataset[<| "A" -> "1", "B" -> "2"|>];

However, if the cells are reals (only one of them seems to be enough), then

dat = Dataset[<| "A" -> 1.0, "B"-> 2.0 |>];
ExportString[dat, "CSV"]

returns $Failed, with the following message:

Dataset::exportfail: Dataset of the given form could not be exported as format "CSV".

The same issue appears when using Export rather than ExportString. I am currently using ToString to convert all cells to strings before exporting. Is this a bug?

I am using OS X, Mathematica version 11.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Looks like a bug to me. $\endgroup$
    – m_goldberg
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


In version, a detailed examination of the traced execution of ExportString[dat, "CSV"] reveals that the error occurs due to a bug in the internal function Dataset`ImportExport`PackagePrivate`txt.

This function is supposed to convert values of various types to strings. But we find that it has problems with real numbers:


(* 1 *)

(* GeneralUtilities`TextString`PackagePrivate`fmtReal[1., 10] *)

We can inspect the definitions of txt, looking for the definition applicable for real numbers:


   txt[r_Real | r_Rational] := fmtReal[r, 10];

However, if we look at the definitions of fmtReal, we find that the only definition expects one argument, not two:


   fmtReal[r_] := FromCharacterCode@...


If we are willing to apply an unsanctioned patch ourselves, we can fix the bug:


Dataset`ImportExport`PackagePrivate`txt[r_Real | r_Rational] :=

dat = Dataset[<| "A" -> 1.0, "B"-> 2.0 |>];
ExportString[dat, "CSV"]


Note that this patch must be applied after the dataset packages have been auto-loaded. The otherwise apparently useless expression Dataset; forces the auto-loading to happen.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I have also submitted a bug report. $\endgroup$
    – ecoxlinux
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ @WReach I also get this error but the Stack Trace just shows error.... $\endgroup$
    – SumNeuron
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ @SumNeuron Yes, the stack trace does not show much. Try wading through the output given by Select[UpValues[Dataset], Not@*FreeQ[ExportString]] and TracePrint[ Dataset`ImportExport`PackagePrivate`datasetExportString[dat, "CSV"]]. Debugging system internals is tricky (especially Dataset), but alas a meaty discussion of the techniques will not fit into comment boxes :D $\endgroup$
    – WReach
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:44

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