Goodbye static graphs, hello shiny, ggvis, rmarkdown (vs JS solutions)

Monday August 18, 2014

Filed under: computing,R,statistics,type — jackman @ 6:00 am

One of the very exciting and promising developments from RStudio is the rmarkdown/shiny/ggvis combination of tools.

We’re on the verge of static graphs and presentations being as old-fashioned as overhead transparencies.

I’ve spent the last couple of days giving these tools a test spin. Lots of comments and links to examples appear below.

I came to this investigation with a specific question in mind: how can I get a good-looking scatterplot with some rollover/tooltip functionality into a presentation, with one tool or one workflow?

Soft constraints: I’d prefer to use R, at least on the data side, and I would also like customization over look and feel (e.g, slide transitions), stylistic elements like type, color, sizes and spacing.

I use either Beamer or Keynote for presentations (Beamer for teaching/stats-type talks, Keynote for more substantive, general audience talks). I began by investigating how one might drop a d3-rendered graph into a Keynote presentation, but this seems pretty hard. Hacking at the files produced by Keynote’s export-to-HTML function seems formidable.

I’ve also been poking at solutions that are all on the JS side of the ledger (e.g., d3 + stack), inspired by this example from Karl Broman. I’m also interested in how one might roll an interactive graphic into Prezi.

But back to the RStudio workflow, using the rmarkdown/shiny/ggvis combination. Here is some sample output I’ve created: a standalone scatterplot and a dummy presentation.

Some observations:

If you’re happy with the out-of-the-box style defaults, then this stack of tools is just about there and evolving rapidly. And keep in mind that rmarkdown does a lot more than make presentations. For instance, I’m yet to really explore rmarkdown for producing publish-to-web papers.

If you crave fine control over layout and graphical elements, then I think it might still be a d3/js world, at least for a while longer.

I’m still left thinking that if I could drop shiny apps or d3 into Keynote (somehow), then I’d have the best of both worlds.

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United web site redesign post-merger is awful

Tuesday March 6, 2012

Filed under: flight nerdery,type — jackman @ 11:32 am

Awful. So we get some nicer planes on UAL from CO (738s, in seat-power in Economy Plus). But the UAL web site looked at least half-decent.

My quick sense is that they’ve imported a lot of elements from the CO site, and it looks awful, IMHO, at least compared to the old UAL site.

How many different typefaces have been jammed onto this page? And images? Even the word “United” appears in FOUR different typefaces.

Screenshot below (click to open up thumbnail), with my personal details blocked out:

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why does the SMH site look so awful?

Sunday February 19, 2012

Filed under: Australian Politics,type — jackman @ 5:00 am

Perhaps the most garish web site I visit, the Sydney Morning Herald. I like their iPad app, but this has long been awful and could be getting worse.

Screen-grab, click for PNG in new window:

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latest Field Notes swag

Friday July 8, 2011

Filed under: type — jackman @ 4:37 pm

Latest bunch of Futura-laden design and hold-in-your-hands goodness…from the Field Notes gang at Coudal. Clickable thumbnails below…

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Australians and Americans, 10 years after 9/11

Thursday June 2, 2011

Filed under: Australian Politics,R,statistics,type — jackman @ 7:00 am

With Lynn Vavreck at UCLA, I ran parallel public opinion surveys in Australia and the United States, measuring attitudes on security, the fight against terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan etc, some 10 years after the 9/11 attacks.

Full report here (generated with Sweave, xelatex, etc).

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latest Field Notes purchase

Sunday April 17, 2011

Filed under: type — jackman @ 8:18 pm

I can’t resist this stuff.

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United logo?

Tuesday April 12, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery,type — jackman @ 3:00 pm

And the new, new post-merger United logo has been on the company’s web site for a while now, and is starting to appear on fleet livery as well.

It looks way better than the first proposal, which used the Continental typeface for the word “United”, which looked just plain bad.

This newer effort — slabby, sans-serif, all caps — does convey the authority and purposefulness implicit in the word “United”, and is less radical a departure from previous United logos. My best guess (below) as to the typeface is Trade Gothic Extended, heavied up and with some extra kerning (and I added a hint of drop shadow).

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United stuff now collectible?

Monday April 11, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery,type — jackman @ 3:00 pm

A UAL employee at RDU told me that with the Continental merger and logo change, that they had been given the last batch of boarding pass envelopes etc (of course, another hypothesis is that they are going to do away with this stuff altogether).

She handed me the boarding pass envelope (scanned above) and told me to hang on to it, “You won’t be seeing anymore of these…”

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Tufte’s rare books

Friday November 12, 2010

Filed under: type — jackman @ 10:26 pm

From Ed Tufte, of whom I am insanely jealous…

I’m auctioning my library of rare books, which includes most all of the statistical graphics and epidemiology classics at Christie’s in New York on December 2. This includes Minard maps, nearly all the Playfairs, and all the books used in my 4 books about analytical thinking and design.

Here’s the electronic link to the catalog:


and then click on “ecatalogue”.

Tufte then goes on to give his account of the auction:

Great books foster, transmit, and preserve forever knowledge. The books in my research library were always meant to be used: read, skimmed, read aloud, exhibited, photographed, shared, treasured. And thus my library, which I thought of as The Museum of Cognitive Art, participated intensely in my research, scholarship, writing, teaching, design. For 30 years, the everyday presence of these wonderful books in my life was inspiring and challenging.

I sought to write, design, and publish books worthy of my research library: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983, 2001), Envisioning Information (1990), Visual Explanations (1997), and Beautiful Evidence (2006).

The collection articulated my interests and needs in making my books abut analytical thinking, seeing, showing: high science (Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Lambert), high art (Dürer, Dufy, Picasso, Ernst, Derain, Albers), practical science (history of perspective, dance notation, magic, aviation, and landscape architecture especially Repton), the history of statistical graphics (nearly all of William Playfair’s books, Marey, Minard), epidemiology (Graunt, John Snow), mapping (Halley, Minard), illustrated books (fish, birds, and whatever), and the classics of book design (Hypnerotomachia, Byrnes’ color Euclid, Eric Gill, Bruce Rogers, John Henry Nash, and books published by Giovanni Mardersteig’s Officina Bodoni press). Their time past became my time present and time future.

This diverse and quirky collection found a certain unity in my own books. The relation between my work and the research library is described in several catalog entries.

With this auction, my research library will turn into open-space land (in perpetuity) for making and exhibiting my landscape sculpture and into a museum and gallery, ET Modern, in New York’s Chelsea art district.

Of course, there’s another book (Seeing Around, 2013?) underway as well. There always is.

Edward Tufte

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new Gap logo

Thursday October 7, 2010

Filed under: type — jackman @ 11:54 pm

The new Gap logo. Freaking ridiculous. I am sure they tested the shit out of it, but bold Helvetica…? In 2010?

Join Apple Ipad/iPhone (which has actually switched to Helvetica Neue), American Airlines, American Apparel, IRS forms, Target, Crate and Barrel, YouGov (which I think is actually Arial) etc etc, making a bland brand all that more so…


 Images Target Logo

800Px-American Airlines Logo.Svg

 Files Crate-Barrel

  6Esfqw 6S-K Sxpjdvnwbli Aaaaaaaaajs Vnlbb3Ta6Uo S320 Yougov

  Os0Mkequxug S5Cm2V73Zii Aaaaaaaaake X7-1218Kcjy S400 Helvetica Irs

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