The Wizarding World of rstudio::conf 2017

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After the success of last January’s “Shiny Dev Con“, our friends at RStudio are back with their first full-blown conference, “rstudio::conf“. Like our own EARL Conference, rstudio::conf was preceeded by training courses from 3 of RStudio’s big names, Hadley Wickham, Joe Cheng and Garrett Grolemund.


The conference proper got started on Friday morning with a great keynote address from Hadley, talking about Data Science in the Tidyverse, before leading into a packed schedule of great talks. We spoke to Hadley after the event and he said that the schedule was specifically designed to make deciding which talk to see hard and they really delivered on this. With so many great talks it’s always hard to single any out, some of our favourites follow;

“What’s new with Shiny” by Joe Cheng, which included mention of the brand new “shinytest” package, which looks set to become an invaluable tool for heavy Shiny developers like ourselves.

Jim Hester talked about Database Best Practices, and talked the new ODBC package, which offers significant performance improvements over RODBC, as well as the ‘pool‘ package, which is a new way to maintain pools of re-usable database connections, specifically targeted at shiny apps.

Jeff Allen, announced the general availability of RStudio’s brand new publishing platform, Connect, which has a really exciting feature set and a 45 day free trial.

RStudio’s Amanda Gadrow talked about using web API’s with R, using packages like httr and jsonlite.

Winston Chang, also from RStudio introduced new features in shiny that allow you bookmark state (finally!).

Julia Silge, talked about a new package called ‘tidytext’ created in collaboration with David Robinson. The accompanying book can be found here.

There was much more besides, and day one concluded with a really strong set of lightning talks, including one from our own Aimee Gott, who provided a brief overview of a project recently undertaken for Pfizer.

After al the conference fun, RStudio laid on the party of a lifetime at The Wizard World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio’s, which was truly a night to remember!


Day two didn’t pull any punches either, after a great keynote from Andrew Flowers of 538 , followed by workshops on Advanced R Markdown by Yihui Xie, and Git and Github with Jenny Bryan.

After an excellent lunch in the Gaylord Palms Resort’s Emerald Plaza, the afternoon was packed with even more great talks.

Hilary Parker of StitchFix talked about the positives of being opinionated in your analysis development.

Jonathon McPherson and Kevin Ushey talked about about RStudio Server Pro power tools and and New features in the IDE respectively.

Of particular interest (to me at least!) was Yihui Xie talking about building website in R, particularly blogs, using another new package, blogdown which wraps the popular Go based static website generator hugo in some really exciting RMarkdown goodness.

The whole conference was rounded off with a fascinating Q&A with JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng and Hadley Wickham, which moved seamlessly from the purely technical, all the way to the highly philosophical and back without missing a beat.

Obviously we’ve not mentioned every single talk, but with so much high quality content, it’s impossible to cover it all. Huge congratulations go to the whole RStudio team for putting on such a great conference, and Mango were proud to exhibit and be part of it and we’re already looking forward to the next one!

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