6 reasons R isn't going anywhere

by Greg Lamp

Recently there's been a flurry of blog posts and articles describing how Python is taking over R and that Python and/or Julia are going to blow it out of the water. But if you think that you're escaping from the death grip of R? I've got news for your Mr. Scientist, R is here to stay (at least for a while).

I came across Matt Asay's article a few weeks ago on HackerNews. It's a great article, and I think the two strongest arguments it makes are:

And while I think these things might be true, I don't think R is going to be displaced by Python in the near future.

R is still cutting edge

So I'm not really sure how this one goes unnoticed, but despite the complaining about the syntax, R is still a cutting edge tool with millions of users.


R isn't new. It's been around for about 20-30 years. It's not just going to go away overnight.

Don't believe me? Check out the package listing

RStudio > IPython Notebook

The IPython Notebook is great for presentations and tutorials, but when it comes to an actual analytical IDE, it's hard to beat RStudio . It looks great, is fast, and is the best web based app I have used. It actually feels the same as using it on your local computer.

How many people are actaully switching?

If you read Hacker News or /r/programming, you're most likely being over-exposed to tech that is "cool" but not neccessarily mainstream.

Just think about how many B and C level R programmers are out there. They're not the sort of people who are considering moving to Python because there's a better version of RandomForest.

Because Hadley Wickham will be

R's fearless leader. Mr. Wickham has built plyr, stringr, and most notably, ggplot2. It's a laundry list of functionality that should exist in base R, but doesn't.

I'm also excited about Advanced R Programming. I think it will help make package development in R more accessible to the typical R user. Previously, the best documentation for building R packages was found here. Functional? Yes. Thurough? You bet. Helpful? Maybe. Easy to follow? Absolutely not.

I have no doubt that the R community continue to benefit for Mr. Wickham's generosity in the years to come.

Photo of Mr Wickham, courtesy gravatar

Pydata is confused

Pydata is the non-profit wing of Continuum Analytics. It essentially gives them a seperate avenue for raising money via donations and grants by which they can pay developers to work on open source/government projects. In concept, I think it's great! We get more open source tools! But to date I've been a little disappointed in the tools that have come out of the program:

Final Thoughts

I've got news for you, Mr. Scientist