Shiny is the new Cool

Several of you will probably have tried out the new Shiny package brought to the table by the RStudio guys

This is just what I have been looking for and to my mind could provide a quantum leap in the use of R. There have been other packages addressing the need for web user interactivity but this is the first one I have found that makes it relatively easy for the less technically able of us to get something up and running

Up until now, I have used Flex/Flash to allow interactivity but there are several drawbacks including the platform itself and development time. I also wish to take advantage of the statistical processing and graphical opportunities offered by R

Much of my future work will be sports-related but I am kicking off with an app based on work I have presented in a previous post

The app, which graphically compares subjects wikipedia search rates by day, can be seen accessed RStudio’s server option. Currently under development (so there may be problems), I am hoping it is financially affordable once it goes fully live!
I have posted the code as a gist and for those of you with the shiny package installed on R it can also be run with the shiny::runGist(’4171750′) command

Actual run times to produce the graph are pretty acceptable especially if the number of subjects compared is small and only a limited number of months is surveyed. Any graphs are easily saveable, of course.

It’s mostly fun, of course, and quite addictive. My son took particular pleasure in seeing the lack of interest in any Blue Jays player compared with Derek Jeter.

Where does the star of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ stand in interest comapred with his fellow heroes?

And what explains this pattern with Shakespeare? Click on image for larger version

I am sure there are more useful aspects to be mined. For instance, if a particular subject has to be evaluated, peaks in the timeline will allow easy access to news for that day. And as I have alluded to before perhaps the interest in a particular political candidate is a foreshadow (and potential replacement of) standard opinion polls

For now, I will leave the last word to John Lennon.

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4 thoughts on “Shiny is the new Cool

  1. Chris

    Hi, nice tool! For a lot of the searches there seems to be a weekday-weekend bias (resulting in the sinusoidal patterns). Maybe normalize the counts for total search volume?

    1. pssguy Post author

      You may well have looked at more but it seems to me that academic type subjects e.g. Shakespeare are targeted during Monday – Thursday suggesting student driven.
      Celebrities, by contrast, run at a pretty standard level spiked by publicity . It looks like dying helps at least in the short term
      I see there is now the possiblity to create apps that offer downloadable csv files so i will be looking into that

  2. Gergely Daróczi , Founder of

    Nice post!

    I also really like using R with rich data sets for visualizing/modelling sport events and also did something similar with our Rapporter webapp for the Olympics a few months ago, you might like to check the demo application:

    If you would be interested in creating similar applications, please do not hesitate to try out We offer an alternative solution for hosted R templates and reporting with dynamic annotations and even more. No need for UI or even server side R coding, just concentrate on the output without restrictions :)

    Please feel free to contact me for more details, BTW we have just set up an API to let our clients integrate their R applications right in their homepage without much technical tweaks.

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