Shiny Developers Conference Review

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by Aimee Gott









Late in 2015 I was delighted to receive an invite to the inaugural Shiny Developers Conference to be held in Stanford, California. I didn’t have to think twice about wanting to be there and now that it is over I am delighted I got the invite and made the trip.


Joe Cheng did a great job in starting day 1 and making us all proficient users of reactive and observe functions, and more importantly when to use which (hint: you should always use reactive, except in the couple of cases when you shouldn’t). After lunch he was followed by Winston Chang who showed us linked brushing, Hadley Wickham who showed us shiny Gadgets and Jeff Allen who walked us through deployment options for shiny apps. If that all wasn’t enough we were further inspired by how others were using shiny in practice; I was particularly impressed by Ricardo Bion who talked to us about how AirBnB are using shiny for prototyping dashboards.


But it was definitely the gadgets that I wanted to try out in the coding time that followed. If you haven’t seen gadgets before these are essentially small shiny apps that can be built to help perform analysis, as opposed to presenting results of analysis. As with all things from RStudio it was really quick and easy to get started with and I was pleased to say that it only took me a couple of hours to go from never having touched gadgets to having a gadget in a package that integrated with the addins available in the beta version of the RStudio IDE.(Sorry to everyone at Mango who are now going to have to listen to me telling them “We should make a gadget for that” for everything).


All of this just from day 1, so how did day 2 compare? Well, somehow they managed to fit even more in to day 2.


Garrett talked us through shiny modules which are going to become an invaluable part of my app development, essentially meaning I don’t have to copy and paste parts of apps but call them like functions. Beyond that we saw debugging, dashboards and profiling from Jonathan McPherson, Nathan Stephens and Winston Chang. Garrett talked to us about UI and Yihui Xie talked through DT for DataTables. And yet there was more! More user talks. For me a highlight was shinyjs from Dean Attalli which allows you to incorporate javascript functionality into your apps.


I’m not quite sure how so much was crammed into just two days but I have certainly come out of the weekend with many, many new ideas and I can’t wait to put them into practice.


So a massive congratulations to Joe Cheng and all at RStudio on their successful conference, and watch this space for more on the gadgets, modules and shinyjs!

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