“Building ractives is so addictive it should be illegal!”

March 27, 2013

(This article was first published on Timely Portfolio, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

clickme is an amazing R package. I was not sure what to expect when I first saw Nacho Caballero’s announcement. I actually was both skeptical and intimidated, but neither reaction was justified. The examples prove its power, and his wiki tutorials ease the noobie difficulties. Very similar to shiny, clickme serves as an integration point for html, javascript (especially d3), and R. While clickme does not allow the R websocket interactivity that shiny does, its more concentrated focus on quick reproducibility and sharing makes it a very useful tool. This is very much in the spirit of http://dexvis.wordpress.com/ Reusable Charts. ractives defined as

(short for interactives-a hat tip to Neal Stephenson), which are simple folder structures that contain a template file used to populate the JS code with R input data

provide the structure for clickme to produce an html file from

  1. a template in R markdown (template.rmd)
  2. a translator R script (translator.r)
  3. a data source
  4. external scripts (probably javascript) and styles (.css).

Inspired by the clickme longitudinal heatmap example, I just had to try to create my own ractive. I thought Mike Bostock’s line chart example would serve as a nice template for my first ractive. The data not surprisingly will come from the R finance package PerformanceAnalytics dataset named managers. With very minor modifications to the Bostock source and a simple custom R script translator (translator.R shown below), we have everything we need for this ractive, which I will call multiline.

#' Translate the data object to the format expected by current template


#' @param data input data object

#' @param opts options of current template

#' @return The opts variable with the opts$data variable filled in

translate <- function(data, opts = NULL) {


# I would like to generalize this to handle both price and return right

# now just handles return clickme template.Rmd javascript can handle

# prices or cumulative so we will send cumulative which can serve as price

# remove na

data[is.na(data)] <- 0

# get cumulative growth

data <- cumprod(1 + data)

# convert to data frame

data.df <- data.frame(cbind(format(index(data), "%Y-%m-%d"), coredata(data)))

colnames(data.df)[1] = "date"

# melt the data frame so we have our data in long form

data.melt <- melt(data.df, id.vars = 1, stringsAsFactors = FALSE)

colnames(data.melt) <- c("date", "indexname", "price")

# remove periods from indexnames to prevent javascript confusion these .

# usually come from spaces in the colnames when melted

data.melt[, "indexname"] <- apply(matrix(data.melt[, "indexname"]), 2, gsub,

pattern = "[.]", replacement = "")

opts$data <- df2json(data.melt)



Now to create our first clickme html page, we just need a couple lines of code in R.

# if not already installed, uncomment the tow lines below

# library(devtools) install_github('clickme', 'nachocab')


# set location where you put your multiline ractive



data(managers) #although I use managers, really any xts series of returns will work

clickme(managers, "multiline")

Then, we have a web page that will create an interactive d3 line chart using the cumulative growth of the managers return series. If you do not see the embed below, then please follow the link.

Eventually, it will be very nice to have an entire gallery of amazing ractives.

git repo

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