Some of the Shiny apps we’ve developed for a financial trading firm have pretty consistent requirements:
- Show a lot of data, and highlight the important stuff.
- Update that data frequently.
The DataTables library makes a lot of sense for those. It’s easy to use – just pop in a data.frame and by default you have a sortable, searchable, page-able table with a nice default style.
But then we noticed the client-side (browser) memory leak!
Eventually the browser tab would crash, and the app had to be restarted.
After investigating, we noticed the server-side rendering function
DT::renderDataTable actually creates a NEW instance of the DataTable every time it updates, rather than just updating the data in the existing table.
Continue reading “Shiny, DataTables, and replaceData”
We build a lot of Shiny apps, and most work fine without a lot of customization.
But special cases require some fine-tuning to get everything working correctly, especially with a lot of simultaneous users.
One recent app was built for a financial trading firm, and needed to be open and responsive for a large set of traders all day long.
But there was a major barrier: every five seconds, data needed to be pulled from a database on another continent back to the US, transformed with some relatively processor-intensive steps, and only then were results displayed on the screen…maybe only a second or two before the next update cycle would begin.
For one user, no problem – but for two, three, four, …, users? When using the open source version of Shiny Server, all sessions are working in a single R process, which means each session has to wait for other sessions to update first.
Continue reading “Speeding Up A Shiny App: Future/Promise and Caching”
There was a comment on a recent Hacker News thread about a world airport Voronoi map that said “if only there was a webpage/software where someone could click/select points on a map…and a user Voronoi diagram would be created ;-).”
I knew such a tool already existed, but I thought I might as well try to implement one myself, so I put together the pieces:
- The deldir R package can quickly create Voronoi lines for a given set of two-dimensional points.
- Google Maps, since I knew how to handle events like clicking to add a point, dragging the points, and double-clicking to remove. Plus it’s easy to draw the Voronoi lines.
- Shiny can link that quick calculation of Voronoi lines with the front-end maps library API, so that user events and the server-side data stay in sync.
A live demo version is available on our Shiny demo server: https://shiny.modernresearchconsulting.com/create-voronoi
The user interface is pretty simple – just click to add points, drag to change, and double-click to remove, and the Voronoi will update automatically.
There’s also an option to change the lines from straight to geodesics (following the curve of the earth).
The code is on Github and MIT-licensed.
I’d love to add a way to load sets of point at once (US state capitals, 100 tallest mountains, sports arenas, etc) when I have more time to work on this.
The previous post was all about an open data / open source strategy.
There’s plenty of data available from public sites that can be turned into useful tools, and one of the sources we’ve focused on recently is police response data.
Winston-Salem Police Department publishes a simple text file daily, containing information about all the responses from the previous day: report number, address, time of day, and the type of issue (for example, vandalism, motor vehicle theft, arson, etc.).
But the interface isn’t very useful: no aggregation, no filtering, no visualization, nothing but daily text files.
WSPD does contract with crimemapping.com to display individual responses on a map, which can be filtered going back several months, and users can even receive email alerts for activity within a specified radius of any address.
That’s great! But of course we wondered if an open-source tool would be possible.
So we’ve released a minimal version of a Shiny dashboard as an example:
And we’ve also released the source code here:
Continue reading “Winston-Salem Police Response Data”
I’ve been exploring some of the lesser-known Amazon Web Services (AWS) tools recently, and when I saw the in-console demo of Rekognition, the image labeling/classification service, I knew I needed to find an application for testing.
Then I forgot about it for a few weeks.
And THEN! I came across this archive of all the Sports Illustrated covers in the Sports Illustrated Vault. The rest happened in a whirlwind.
Continue reading “Sports Illustrated Cover Image Analysis with AWS Rekognition”
I was working on a task a few days ago that required converting a lot of timestamps into dates (not times, just dates). Thankfully,
as.Date seemed to be working fine as a default approach, but then an error showed up:
Error in charToDate(x) :
character string is not in a standard unambiguous format
Fair enough, nobody expects to get through parsing dates without a few hangups.
So I focused in on the vector that was causing the trouble, and didn’t see anything obviously wrong – those timestamps looked just like the other columns of timestamps that had worked thus far.
There were some blanks, but there were blanks in the other columns too, and besides,
as.Date("") is just
Continue reading “Order Dependence in as.Date”
I gave a talk at Monday night’s Winston-Salem R Users Group that covered a lot of the base R package, and also showed a brief demo of how to use
packrat when packages are necessary, and so is sharing code across multiple team members and/or environments.
The idea came from a comment at a previous meeting about the dangers of trying to maintain common versions of code within and across teams, not just to avoid surprising errors, but also to ensure reproducibility.
So my recommended approach was:
- Learn as much as you can about the details of the base package. It’s a huge package, and a lot of common needs can be handled simply and effectively.
- When you need a package (and there are certainly useful and necessary packages), use a system like
packrat to keep dependencies systematically managed.
Most of the content wouldn’t be a surprise to daily R users, but I did throw in some things that either 1) surprised me when I first learned them, or 2) increased my productivity so much that I think everyone should know them.
Continue reading “Base R When Possible, Packrat When Not”
I’ve been working on a codebase that relied on storing a lot of objects in R environments, mainly because of the potential speed improvements with large numbers of objects.
See this article for a pretty good explanation.
After a recent spec change, I needed to start looping around a block of code that was previously using a single environment to store objects. The easiest approach was to create an initial base environment to use at the start of each iteration of the loop, and then create a copy of that environment that would be specific to the loop iteration.
But I got a surprise!
All of the result environments looked like the last iteration.
First, let’s look at how this works when you start with a base list, make a copy, and modify the copy:
Continue reading “Copying R Environments”
I presented to this year’s Triad Developers Conference on March 10. The talk was a hands-on guide titled Building Web Applications in R, which took participants through the initial steps of building a Shiny application, and also building an openCPU application.
Continue reading “Triad Developers Conference 2017”
When the early versions of Shiny were released in 2012, my career changed forever.
I’m not exaggerating. Shiny generalized data analysis – instead of tweaking code and parameters and plots every time a client needed to see a slight variation of existing output, I could build a user interface that would produce the same analysis for ANY inputs.
The researcher could check for themselves, without needing a round trip back to me. We could move faster, and more effectively.
Five years late, Shiny has no equal.
Continue reading “Shiny Versus What, Exactly?”