Teaching a short topic to beginner R users

A couple weeks ago I was given the opportunity to teach a 1 hr 30 min slot of an introduction to R course. In the past, I've taught lectures for similar courses, and I ended up asking myself what would be the best short topic to teach and how to teach it. Best short topic There are two ways to answer the first question, one boring and one more interesting.

Use hidden advanced arguments for user-friendly functions

As a user Imagine that you are starting to learn how to use a specific R package, lets call it foo. You will look at the vignette (if there is one), use help(package = foo), or look at the reference manual (for example, devtools' ref man). Eventually, you will open the help page for the function(s) you are interested in using. ?function_I_want_to_use In many packages, there is a main use case that is addressed by the package.

An xpd-tion into R plot margins

This is a guest post by Prasad Patil that answers the question: how to put a shape in the margin of an R plot? The help page for R's par() function is a somewhat impenetrable list of abbreviations that allow you to manipulate anything and everything in the plotting device. You may have used this function in the past to create an array of plots (using mfrow or mfcol) or to set margins (mar or mai).

Where do I start using Bioconductor?

I was recently asked where do I get started with Bioconductor? and thought this would be a good short post. What is BioC? Briefly, Bioconductor (Gentleman, Carey, Bates, and others, 2004) is an open source project that hosts a wide range of tools for analyzing biological data with R (R Core Team, 2014). These analysis tools are bundled into packages which are designed to answer specific questions or to provide key infrastructure.

Concerns that can deter potential orders for developing Shiny apps

A few weeks ago I was invited to a meeting where a group was interested in exploring options for replacing their contract with a propriety software. They invited me because they saw some resemblances between a Shiny application I made and the features they need. It is a relatively small project and it seemed feasible to implement, but well, some details could have been tricky to code. During the meeting I explained what Shiny is, showcased some of the Shiny apps I've made, and proposed some options including a simple site password.

Simple mortgage calculator

Have you ever thought of borrowing some money? A common case is when you have to borrow money for buying a house, which is called a mortgage. Wikipedia ('Mortgage loan' entry) goes into much more detail about the definition than what I'll cover. One of the aspects you have to evaluate when considering a loan such as a mortgage is how much interest you will be charged and how long the loan will be.

rMaps Mexico map

It's exciting when great people help each other get things done This is a simple networking story, which might not be surprising to some but I was happily surprised by it. This is how the story goes: Two weeks ago rMaps (Vaidyanathan, 2014) was released. After making a blog post about it I thought about using it to make a map of the homicide rate in Mexico over the recent years.

Automatically coloring your R output in the terminal using colorout

Thanks to Alyssa Frazee I just learned about the colorout package (Aquino, 2013). It modifies R so that the output is in different colors, making it much more pleasant to use R in the terminal. Do note that colorout is not available from CRAN, but you can easily install by following the instructions on the colorout site (Official site) reproduced below: download.file("", destfile = "colorout_1.0-2.tar.gz") install.packages("colorout_1.0-2.tar.gz", type = "source", repos = NULL) The next step is to then load colorout automatically when I start R.

rMaps released

Ramnath Vaidyanathan just released his new R interactive package, rMaps (Vaidyanathan, 2014). The packages relies on the development version of his widely known rCharts package (Vaidyanathan, 2013) as well as javascript libraries that specialize in maps. If you don't know Ramnath, he is one of the most active R developers out there!! You can see that from his GitHub profile. The package is very new and still under development, but I bet that Ramnath released it to get us users excited and maybe find some helpful hands to document it and further develop it.

How to upload files to Dropbox and Google Docs from R

Have you ever wondered whether you can upload files from R to Dropbox and/or Google Docs? I recently asked myself this question while making my most recent Shiny app (more later). The answer is yes, you can upload files from R to these cloud services! Dropbox As far as I know, the best R package for uploading files to Dropbox is rDrop (Ram & Temple Lang, 2012). The whole setup is very well explained in it's GitHub repository (Karthik).