New SwiftR Chapter Up: Building an R-backed SwiftUI macOS App

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Last week I introduced a new bookdown series on how to embed R into a macOS Swift application.

The initial chapters focused on core concepts and showed how to build a macOS compiled, binary command line application that uses embedded R for some functionality.

This week, a new chapter is up that walks you though how to build a basic SwiftUI application that takes input from the user, performs a computation in R (via embedded R) and displays the result of the computation back to the user.

The app looks like this:

and — apart from some of the boilerplate interface code from previous chapters — is around ~60 lines of Swift code that ends up consuming ~65 MB of active RAM when run with almost no energy impact (an equivalent Electron-packaged Shiny app would be 130-200 MB of initial RAM and have a significant, constant energy impact).

There’s sufficient boilerplate in this project to extend to write a basic GUI wrapper for various R operations you have hanging around.

Forthcoming chapters will show how to get graphics out of R and into a SwiftUI window as well as how to make a more diminutive Shiny app wrapper that we’ll eventually be able to ship with an embedded copy of the R framework.

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