Using R Shiny to Develop Web Apps

At the end of each year in graduate school, I've made it a practice to take stock of new skills that I have acquired over the years, and areas that I look forward to developing in the coming years.

Beginning graduate school with experience as a field ecologist, I did not have an understanding of how important quantitative analyses would be over the course of my PhD. Within the first few months of my program, I began tinkering with R: writing bits of code and making programs for simple calculations. Of course, just starting out,I felt a bit lost because I knew how critical statistical programming would be, but had no idea where to begin. 

I made a commitment to learn R and began by taking the wonderful Intro to R course led by Dr. Jose Anadon of Queens College (highly recommended if you're in the Doctoral Consortium in NYC!) Then, I followed this with biostatistics taught through an R framework. At this point, my confidence level as an R programmer had grown, as had my enjoyment!

Of course, learning R is never over, and the more I learn, the more questions I have--all once exciting loop of knowledge acquisition/question asking/skill sharing.  Recently, I have been experimenting with using RStudio's app development tool, shiny, in an effort to make my research projects have a more public-facing component.  All the programming is done in R, and the Shiny developers have made it so R script is converted into HTML for easy creation of websites and apps. Shiny allows users who are unfamiliar with R interact with our programs by plugging in their own values for different parameters, and moving sliders to manipulate statistical models. If you have some experience with R and an interest in app development, I strongly recommending viewing their 3 hour tutorial.

Once you have explored Shiny, your next stop should be Shiny Dashboard.  This is another R framework that builds from Shiny, and allows for additional user interface configuration.  

Recently, I've used bits and pieces of spare time to develop my own application which I'll posted along with source code here in a few weeks!