Build Statistical Graphics Online With ggplot2

Dec 22, 2009

Statisticians are generally behind the times when it comes to online applications. There are a lot out-dated Java applets and really rough attempts at getting R, a statistical computing environment, in some useful form through a browser. So imagine my surprise when I tried this tool by Jeroen Ooms, a visiting scholar at UCLA Statistics.

It actually works pretty well, and for a prototype, it isn’t half bad.

Statistical Graphics as Layers

The engine behind Jeroen’s tool is Hadley Wickham’s ggplot2, an R implementation of of Leland Wilkinson’s Grammar of Graphics. Yes, it’s a big chain of events.

Those who use Adobe products, like Illustrator or Photoshop, are familiar with the idea of layers in your graphics.

Without going into all the details, the main idea is that statistical graphics are made up of layers. There’s the data, axes, and the plot. You can do this in R with the ggplot2 library, or, with this tool, you can upload data and specify the layers through the clickety interface.

Here’s a short demo of ggplot in action:

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