Getting into R can be quite daunting. It’s a new language to you, programmers are worrying about polishing up their math skills, statisticians are worrying about their programming skills and its hard keeping up with all the new and exciting packages . I found a good way to get myself into R was to poke around interesting things other people are doing. These are 5 little gems that have been invaluable to be on my R journey, I wish I’d known about them earlier.

1) Github

There are lots of interesting people doing stuff with R and putting the code up on Github. It’s worth poking around what people are doing. One person in particular I follow is David Sparks. He is constantly putting up really interesting bits of code (which github calls ‘gists’). Sometimes I find his code needed adapting or updating a little for my needs, but that is a really important part of the learning process. You can see full write ups and examples of his work on his blog, unfortunately he doesn’t update it much. But check out his beautiful opinion mapping blog. For those interested in text mining I really recommend Adam Cooper’s Text Mining weak signals repository.

 2) 5 Functions I wish I’d known earlier:

This post describes 5  functions you wish you’d known earlier. Shame the site doesn’t seem to be updated much now as I also enjoyed the blog’s ‘function a day’.

 3) Stack Overflow

Been stuck on something that you think should be obvious for hours? Stack overflow can help. Stack Overflow  is a question and answer site, if you get stuck on something early in your R life then it’s a good place to ask for help. There are many experienced R developers here to help. If your fine with the code but stats are giving you a headache then no worry, there is even a place for stats questions too.

The great thing about posting here is that when the next person bungs the question into Google the answer will already be there for them. With that in mind, if nobody answers your question, but you solve it yourself, it’s still worth posting the answer for the next lost soul.

4) Rstudio

Trust me. You’ll really struggle if you decide to use R from the command line interface. Rstudio gives you a nice IDE to organise files, packages etc and will save you lots of time in the the long run. Eclipse lovers may wish to try integrating R into Eclipse (really good post here), although I love eclipse and I still use Rstudio.

5) Crunch!

Crunch is basically a hosted R studio. This is great because it means you can use your scripts to create a webservice or the such. I’ve not had the time I’ve wanted to play with Crunch but it encourages people to be open with their code so I have learnt a lot by poking around other peoples work. It’s also worth following the chap behind crunch, Fridolin Wild on twitter, his username is @fwild.

Categories: Technology


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