Saturday, March 5, 2011

Moving from Excel to R

This first post of the Backtesting in Excel and R series will provide some resources to help smooth the transition from the familiarity and comfort of Excel to the potentially strange and intimidating world of R.

I made my voyage from Excel to R more than 5 years ago and learned mostly by trial and error (and reading the R manuals).  Most people don't prefer my approach of "keep at it until you figure it out", so I don't have a lot of personal advice to share.  My main piece of advice is that the best way to learn R is to use it, so most of the resources below focus on "how-to" do certain things in R.


While R for Windows comes with a very basic GUI (I'm not familiar with the R for Mac OS X GUIs), most people will want and benefit from something more elaborate.  The GUIs below were taken from the R GUI Projects page (visit the page for more information / alternatives) and I added the newcomer, RStudio:
Blogs / Videos

I haven't read these two books personally, but I've heard very good things about both of them.  Both focus on how to accomplish specific tasks with R.
I hope this is helpful.  As always, please add suggestions in the comments!


Ravi Aranke said...

Hi Joshua,

Thanks for excellent advice. 'Keep at it till you figure it out'. Indeed.

It would be great if you could offer your thoughts on how to move to next stage of R viz. building packages. How and when did you make that transition? What are the good resources, sites, tools toward that?

Thanks a lot,

Tal Galili said...

Some notes:

1) Deducer is also an interesting GUI to mention.

2)There is an integration between RExcel and R commander.

3) RStudio is not a GUI it's an IDE (a great one, one which I have faith that will grow wonderfully), but it's not a GUI

4) I recently wrote a book review about "25 recipes for getting started with R"
I think it's a good starter book.

(p.s: If we are into general links, it might be in place to mention: :) )


Anonymous said...

Don't forget to mention RKWard for GUI's:

For Linux users almost every distribution has packaged it in their repos, for Windows users there are guides @ their wiki, e.g. for Windows users:

Joshua Ulrich said...

Hi Ravi,

I'll keep that in mind for future posts.


Thanks for the excellent points!


I didn't mention RKWard because of the "known issues" on Windows, since most Excel users only use Windows.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the list. RStudio is fantastic and exactly what I've been needing! All in one place, you can view the objects, the procedure you're working with, the output window, all the plotted items, the directory, all your packages, the R Help page, etc. I've always loved R but this changes everything!