Category Archives: Guest Post

Plotly Beta: Collaborative Plotting with R

(Guest post by Matt Sundquist on a lovely new service which is pro-actively supporting an API for R)

The Plotly R graphing library  allows you to create and share interactive, publication-quality plots in your browser. Plotly is also built for working together, and makes it easy to post graphs and data publicly with a URL or privately to collaborators.

In this post, we’ll demo Plotly, make three graphs, and explain sharing. As we’re quite new and still in our beta, your help, feedback, and suggestions go a long way and are appreciated. We’re especially grateful for Tal’s help and the chance to post.

Installing Plotly

Sign-up and Install (more in documentation)

From within the R console:


Next, install plotly (a big thanks to Hadley, who suggested the GitHub route):

# ...
# * DONE (plotly)

Then sign-up like this or at

>response = signup (username = 'username', email= 'youremail')
Thanks for signing up to plotly! 
Your username is: MattSundquist
Your temporary password is: pw. You use this to log into your plotly account at Your API key is: “API_Key”. You use this to access your plotly account through the API.
To get started, initialize a plotly object with your username and api_key, e.g. 
>>> p < - plotly(username="MattSundquist", key="API_Key")
Then, make a graph!
>>> res < - p$plotly(c(1,2,3), c(4,2,1))

And we’re up and running! You can change and access your password and key in your homepage.

1. Overlaid Histograms:

Here is our first script.

p < - plotly(username="USERNAME", key="API_Key")
x0 = rnorm(500)
x1 = rnorm(500)+1
data0 = list(x=x0,
data1 = list(x=x1,
layout = list(barmode='overlay')  
response = p$plotly(data0, data1, kwargs=list(layout=layout)) 

The script makes a graph. Use the RStudio viewer or add “browseURL(response$url)” to your script to avoid copy and paste routines of your URL and open the graph directly.


Continue reading Plotly Beta: Collaborative Plotting with R

R-bloggers: an example of how interest networks propel viral events

A guest post by Jeff Hemsley, who has co-authored with Karine Nahon a new book titled Going Viral.

In Going Viral (Polity Press, 2013) we explore the topic of virality, the process of sharing messages that results in a fast, broad spread of information. What does that have to do R, or the R-bloggers community? First and foremost, we use the R-bloggers community as an example of the role of interest networks (see description below) in driving viral events. But we also used R as our go-to tool for our research that went into the book. Even the cover art, pictured here, was created with R, using the iGraph package. Included below is an excerpt from chapter 4 that includes the section on interest networks and R-bloggers.


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A speed test comparison of plyr, data.table, and dplyr


Guest post by Jake Russ

For a recent project I needed to make a simple sum calculation on a rather large data frame (0.8 GB, 4+ million rows, and ~80,000 groups). As an avid user of Hadley Wickham’s packages, my first thought was to use plyr. However, the job took plyr roughly 13 hours to complete.

plyr is extremely efficient and user friendly for most problems, so it was clear to me that I was using it for something it wasn’t meant to do, but I didn’t know of any alternative screwdrivers to use.

I asked for some help on the manipulator Google group , and their feedback led me to data.table and dplyr, a new, and still in progress, package project by Hadley.

What follows is a speed comparison of these three packages incorporating all the feedback from the manipulator folks. They found it informative, so Tal asked me to write it up as a reproducible example.

Continue reading A speed test comparison of plyr, data.table, and dplyr