3d surface plots with RStudio and Plotly

March 24, 2015

(This article was first published on Modern Data » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Recently you may have seen how to build a 3d surface plot with Plotly and IPython notebook. Here you can learn the basics of creating a 3d surface plot with Plotly in RStudio.

Just add the Plotly library into your RStudio environment then add a Plotly username and key:

py <- plotly()
set_credentials_file(username = 'your_username', key = 'your_key')

To create a surface plot, use two vectors: x and y of length m and n, and a matrix: z of size m*n. In this example, x and y both consist of 100 points ranging from -5 to 4.9.

x_vec = c(seq(-5, 4.9, 0.1))

*note this results in the same dimensions (1 column X 100 rows) as specifying:
x_matrix = matrix(c(x_vec), nrow = 100, ncol = 1)

The size of x is 1 column with 100 rows. In order to multiply x * y to create matrix z with 100 columns and 100 rows, y should be 100 columns with 1 row.

y_matrix = matrix(c(x_vec), nrow = 1, ncol = 100)

To multiply the vertical and horizontal vectors to create matrix z in RStudio, the basic syntax is z = x %*% y. In this example, a function is applied to z to create waves. Below, dimensions x, y, and z are defined. y used here is different than y1 used above because y should be the default, 1 column vector, not 1 row x 100 columns. Type is defined as “surface”.

data <- list(
        x = x_vec,
        y = x_vec,
        z = matrix(c(cos(x_matrix %*% y_matrix) + sin(x_matrix %*% y_matrix)), nrow = 100, ncol = 100),
        type = "surface")

Finally, specify layout information and filename:

layout <- list(
          title = "Waaaves in r",
          scene = list(bgcolor = "rgb(244, 244, 248)"))

response <- py$plotly(data,
                      kwargs = list(
                                layout = layout,
                                filename = "waves example",
                                fileopt = "overwrite"))

The result will be similar to the interactive 3d plot displayed below:

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