mages' blog

Notes from the Kölner R meeting, 12 September 2014

Last Friday we had guests from Belgium and the Netherlands joining us in Cologne. Maarten-Jan Kallen from BeDataDriven came from The Hague to introduce us to Renjin, and the guys from DataCamp in Leuven, namely Jonathan, Martijn and Dieter, gave an overview of their new online interactive training platform.

Next Kölner R User Meeting: Friday, 12 September 2014

Koeln R
The next Cologne R user group meeting is scheduled for this Friday, 12 September 2014.

We have a great agenda with international speakers:
  • Maarten-Jan Kallen: Introduction to Renjin, the R interpreter for the JVM
  • Jonathan Cornelissen, Martijn Theuwissen: DataCamp - An online interactive learning platform for R
The event will be followed by drinks and schnitzel at the Lux.

Zoom, zoom, googleVis

The Google Charts API is quite powerful and via googleVis you can access it from R. Here is an example that demonstrates how you can zoom into your chart.

ChainLadder 0.1.8 released

Over the weekend we released version 0.1.8 of the ChainLadder package for claims reserving on CRAN.

What is claims reserving?

The insurance industry, unlike other industries, does not sell products as such but promises. An insurance policy is a promise by the insurer to the policyholder to pay for future claims for an upfront received premium.

As a result insurers don't know the upfront cost for their service, but rely on historical data analysis and judgement to predict a sustainable price for their offering. In General Insurance (or Non-Life Insurance, e.g. motor, property and casualty insurance) most policies run for a period of 12 months. However, the claims payment process can take years or even decades. Therefore often not even the delivery date of their product is known to insurers. The money set aside for those future claims payments are called reserves.

googleVis 0.5.5 released

Earlier this week we released googleVis 0.5.5 on CRAN. The package provides an interface between R and Google Charts, allowing you to create interactive web charts from R. This is mainly a maintenance release, updating documentation and minor issues.

Screen shot of some of the Google Charts

New to googleVis? Review the examples of all googleVis charts on CRAN.

Perhaps the best known example of the Google Chart API is the motion chart, popularised by Hans Rosling in his 2006 TED talk.

GrapheR: A GUI for base graphics in R

How did I miss the GrapheR package?

The author, Maxime Hervé, published an article about the package [1] in the same issue of the R Journal as we did on googleVis. Yet, it took me a package update notification on CRANbeeries to look into GrapheR in more detail - 3 years later! And what a wonderful gem GrapheR is.

The package provides a graphical user interface for creating base charts in R. It is ideal for beginners in R, as the user interface is very clear and the code is written along side into a text file, allowing users to recreate the charts directly in the console.

Adding and changing legends? Messing around with the plotting window settings? It is much easier/quicker with this GUI than reading the help file and trying to understand the various parameters.

Here is a little example using the iris data set.
library(GrapheR)
data(iris)
run.GrapheR()
This will bring up a window that helps me to create the chart and tweak the various parameters.

Thanks to R Markdown: Perhaps Word is an option after all?

In many cases Word is still the preferred file format for collaboration in the office. Yet, it is often a challenge to work with it, not so much because of the software, but how it is used and abused. Thanks to Markdown it is no longer painful to include mathematical notations and R output into Word.


I have been using R Markdown for a while now and have grown very fond of it. Although I am quite happy with PDF and HTML output for basic reports and to switch to Sweave/LaTeX for more complex documents, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the new version of RStudio can produce MS Word files directly from R Markdown as well; thanks to the power of pandoc. Perhaps Word is an option after all?