R Commander – a good introductory GUI for R

June 1st, 2010

The R software is very powerful and flexible but one of the complaints of new users is that the learning curve is steep and can be daunting. There have been various projects to create GUIs for R with varying levels of sophistication, one of which is R Commander by John Fox.

Fast Tube by Casper

This interface is worth considering for beginners as it provides access to commonly used functions while also producing the R code required for the analysis which will hopefully smooth out the learning curve for new starters. Other bloggers have mentioned this system see here and here.

The GUI is reasonably straightforward as the intention does not appear to be to provide a point and click interface to the wide range of functions available in R. The above video covers the basics and how to import data from text files, such as tab delimited or comma separated variable file formats. It is also possible to import data from Excel spreadsheets assuming that a bit of pre-processing has been undertaken by the user, which is never a bad thing prior to loading data for analysis.

One interesting element of the GUI is a menu dedicated to continuous and discrete distributions that allow calculation of quantiles, probabilites or random numbers in addition to plotting a graph of the distribution for a given set of parameters. This could be a useful tool for understanding more about distributions.

Other useful resources are provided on the Supplementary Material page.

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