Mid-year Updates

I really miss weekly posting to this blog. To keep it alive, I thought I would write a quick update.

Time Is Not Money

I learned a lot last year. I tried to convey one of those lesson in my post Time Isn’t Money. I feel very fortunate and grateful that some folks contacted me, and I have really enjoyed working on their great ideas. It amazes me how much more progress is made when the proper environment is in place. Running solo is not the right environment.

Authoring htmlwidgets

Building htmlwidgets is still straightforward, but I will say building a good htmlwidget is getting more complicated in a good way. Dealing with multiple contexts, such as the very nice new tabsets and flexdashboard, adds a layer of complexity. Also, the holy graille of htmlwidgets for me, bi-directional communication and inter-widget communication, is in progress with a revived crosstalk effort by Joe Cheng of RStudio and some experiments by Ramnath with the ultra-hot mobx JavaScript library. By the end of the year, I hope we will have settled on standards and best practices here. Although this is delightful and amazing, handling this will add another layer of complexity.

Perils of Relying on Open Source

After witnessing the end of development of many very interesting JavaScript libraries, I have become much more concerned about what I expressed in Who Makes the Open Source you Use?. Knowing the additional complexity of authoring htmlwidgets mentioned in the above paragraph, I am much less willing to wrap an open-source JavaScript/HTML/CSS library if the proper conditions are not in place.


I think it is within reason for a soloist or small team to support a specialized htmlwidget, but a full-featured charting solution requires a whole another level of dedicated effort and funding. It appears Plotly is the only group currently positioned to deliver, and not only in the JS and R world, since they also offer solutions for Python, Matlab, and Julia. At the end of last year, they relieved my last concerns, by taking the very brave step to open source. I know there was some expectation that ggvis would be revived and in place by 2016, but after how long it has taken the amazing, ultra-talented efforts by the team of Plotly and the ongoing commitment and development, I think this expectation for ggvis is unreasonable. I am placing my bet on Plotly and using it for all my non-specialized htmlwidget needs. If you need any additional proof, just take a quick look at 3D Charts all of course available directly from R.

CRAN submission

Each week, I get a limited number of readers of last year’s works, and consistently parcoords and sunburstR are the most popular. Due to the “popularity” (at least relative), I plan to submit these to CRAN in the next couple of weeks. I would love and appreciate any feedback you have before I send them off for disdain and ridicule in the CRAN submission process.


Thanks to everyone that continues to generously contribute to open source. Thanks to everyone who reads and supports me. Thanks to those who have contacted me, shared feedback, used the htmlwidgets, and especially those who have funded and trusted me to work on their ideas!