I have fallen in love with the R language and tool set over the last few weeks. I find that getting outside my comfort zone and learning new tools can always spur creativity and the open source community has a great many tools just waiting to be discovered. The fact that there is a free option for RStudio provides a powerful analysis tool to organizations without taking a large hit to the budget.
R is a statistical computing and graphics language and is available as free software under the GNU general public license. RStudio is a free and open source integrated development environment that puts a user interface over the R command line back end. The combination of the two provides a powerful data analysis toolset.
The tools are more command line and have a programming style rather than a point and click tool such as Microsoft’s Excel. This tool would appeal to the power user analyst or a user with more of a programming background.
R has a Very Active Community
The trouble with adding open source software to your workflow is making sure that the tool is active and being updated on a regular basis. The main criteria I look for is based on how large and active the community around the tool is.
- Do people have a passion for the software?
- Is there an active community?
- When was the last update?
- How often has the software been updated?
R has a large active community and provides functions and extensions to the tool set through external libraries which can be imported as you need and discover them.
Installing R & RStudio on a Mac
The installation on a Mac is simple and straight forward. There are 2 installations that are required, the R language and the RStudio front end. You can install a desktop or server version, however I find for personal use the desktop install and user experience easier to manage.
Step 1 – Installing R
RStudio requires R version 2.11.1 or higher which can be downloaded here; http://cran.rstudio.com/ . There will be 3 versions listed, select the “Download the R for (Mac) OS X” version by first selecting the option below.
This will take you to the binaries page. Download the R-3.2.3.pkg, which is the latest version as of this blog post.
The package will download and double click to install. The installation is straight forward, select ‘Continue’ and follow the prompts.
The R backend is now installed and we can move to installing RStudio.
Step 2 – Installing R Studio
The RStudio desktop version can be found here, https://www.rstudio.com/products/rstudio/#Desktop . There is an open source version and a purchased version that includes various options and support.
The icon above takes you to the various desktop versions, select the Mac OS X version.
Once Downloaded, double click on the RStudio package.
Drag the RStudio icon to the Application Folder
On my machine, I have an older version, you can select ‘Replace’ to only keep the new version.
In Launch Pad, Type in R in finder, you will see both R and RStudio. Select RStudio and the following message is displayed, Select Open to run RStudio
Step3 – Try it out
RStudio is now displayed. You get the option to see a demo which will allow us to see if all is working correctly.
Type the following 2 lines of code in the console and press enter;
X = rnorm(200)
RStudio is now installed and ready for your analysis.
There are many resources and tutorials that can be used to learn more about using the R language, I have listed a few below.
R Project for Statistical Computing, https://www.r-project.org
I hope you find these useful.