A brief survey of R web interfaces

November 29, 2009

(This article was first published on What You're Doing Is Rather Desperate » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I’m looking at ways to provide access to R via a web application. First rule: see what’s available first, before you reinvent the wheel. It’s not pretty.

From the R Web Interfaces FAQ:

Software Brief notes
Rweb Page last updated 1999. Of the 3 example links on the page one ran very slowly, the second not at all and the third is broken.
R-Online Or rather, not online. Unless this CGI form is the same thing. I tried Example 1, it returned a server error.
Rcgi Links to several CGI forms, none of which worked for me.
CGI-based R access Link did not load.
CGIwithR Package now maintained at Omegahat. Did not attempt installation. Last updated 2005.
Rpad I could not connect to this URL.
RApache The pick of the bunch. Provides server-side access to R through an Apache module. I was able to install RApache on 32-bit (but not 64-bit) Ubuntu 9.10 and get it running. Could use more documentation.
Rserve Serves R via TCP/IP. Last updated 2006.
OpenStatServer Broken link. No longer exists, so far as I can tell.
R PHP Online Link out of date (but you can follow it to the newer page). Last updated 2003, so unlikely to be much use.
R-php Last updated 2006; the example that I tried gave a server error.
webbioc A Bioconductor package. Did not investigate further.
Rwui An application to create R web interfaces. My browser hung at “waiting for cache”. I gave up.

So, aside from RApache and some very old-fashioned and/or broken CGI scripts, I conclude that there is little interest in writing beautiful, modern statistical web applications (notable exception). Not so much a case of “reinventing” as “inventing”.

Posted in computing, R, research diary, statistics, web resources

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