One year of R / Notes

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My collection of R notes is now slightly over one year old. This note reflects on how useful the exercise of blogging about R has been so far, and answers some of the questions that I have received about it.

Blogging about R

I created my collection of R notes with the intention to keep track of technical notes that I often need to refer to when I work with other people.

My notes are usually very simple, at least at the mathematical level: my math skills are “read-only” skills, and I have nothing of interest to “showcase” in that area. Still, most of my R notes are more technical in nature than the kind of blog posts that I write for my academic blog, which I write in French for an audience of social scientists.

Writing up “R / Notes” has forced me to simplify the code that I use. My impression is that, when I write code for others to read through, I like to streamline the code as much as possible, using pipes and as few R packages and lines of code as possible.

I also have the habit to use single-letter names for objects and to create as few of these objects as possible, but that is probably as much of a bad habit as a good one. I can trace that habit to many years ago, when I used to write TI-BASIC code in high school…

R-Bloggers syndication

As the header of this collection suggests, my R notes are syndicated on the R-Bloggers aggregator, where most other existing R blogs are also syndicated.

Thanks to Tal Galili for maintaining R-Bloggers, and for his help with syndicating this blog despite the fact that it is built on a customized version of the (discontinued?) Dropplets static blog engine that produces slightly weird Atom and RSS feeds.

Code embeds

One question that has come up more than once about this collection of notes is: How do I embed the R code that shows up in the notes?

The answer is that I use Gist, with a short bit of custom CSS to hide everything produced by its embed method, except for the code and its line numbers:

The little bit of CSS code above corresponds to this (secret) Gist. The code to embed the Gist, which requires JavaScript, is shown at the top of the Gist.

Math embeds

Another question that has come up about this collection of notes is: How do I embed the math code that (occasionally) shows up in the notes?

In order to be able to use mathematical notation in some of my notes, I have turned, like many others, to the fantastic MathJax library, which brings the power of LaTeX typesetting to the Web.

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