Using Deducer to work with R

August 16, 2011

(This article was first published on Stack Exchange Stats Blog » R tips&tricks, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

If one checks out the initial question that prompted this series, a common theme in the answers is that one should use the GUI as a tool to help one build code (and not just as a crutch to do the analysis). Being able to view the code produced by the GUI should help beginner R users learn the commands (and facilitate scripting analysis in the future).  The following blog post highlights one of the popular GUI extensions to R, the Deducer package, and my initial impressions of the package.

It is obvious the makers of the Deducer package have spent an incredible amount of time creating a front end GUI to build plots using the popular ggplot2 package. While it has other capabilities, it is probably worth checking out for this feature alone (although it appears R-Commander recently added similar capabilities as well).

Installation: Long story short, on my Windows 7 laptop I was able to install Deducer once I updated to the latest version of R (2.13 as of writing this post), and installed some missing Java dependencies. After that all was well, and installing Deducer is no different than installing any other package.

What does Deducer do? Deducer adds GUI functionality to accomplish the following tasks:

  • load in data from various formats (csv, SPSS, etc.)
  • view data + variable types in separate data viewer
  • conduct data transformations (recode, edit factors, transformations, transpose, merge)
  • statistical analysis (mean differences, contingency tables, regression analysis)
  • A GUI for building plots using the ggplot2 package

Things I really like:

  • data viewer (with views for spreadsheet and variable view)
  • ability to import data from various formats
  • regression model explorer
  • interactive building of plots (the ability to update currently built plots is pretty awesome)

Minor Quibbles:

  • I would like all of the commands to open in their own call window, not just plots (or be able to route commands to an open (or defined script window) ala log files.
  • I am unable to use the console window if another deducer window is open (e.g. data view, regression model explorer).

Overall I’m glad I checked out the package. I suspect I will be typing library(Deducer) in the future when I am trying to make some plots with the ggplot2 package. The maintainers of the package did a nice job with including a set of commands that are essential for data analysis, along with an extensive set of online tutorials and a forum for help with the software. While the code Deducer produces by point and click is not always the greatest for learning the R language, it is a start in the right direction for those wishing to learn R.


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