We were thrilled to host Hadley Wickham who delivered, as ever, a funny and engaging talk to a packed house at LondonR in August. In fact, to give you an idea of how much anticipated this event was, tickets to see Hadley sold out in under two hours!

It’s always fascinating for us elder members of the R community who remember the good old days, to witness the move from academic tools through to commercial adoption and engagement. For many years, R was proposed and rejected by many organisations due to the environment and architecture that existed. We used to spend time trying to work out data sizes and whether things would help.

I remember talking to Hadley at the first EARL in the US about creating toolsets that allowed organisations who didn’t “Love” R to use it and deploy it internally, comfortably. Hadley’s and latterly his team’s work, has allowed the ecosystem around R to develop from introspection, to a wide view of the analytic landscape, and his talk reflected I felt on some of these shifts.

Hadley’s insight into the mistakes he has made rang very true when considering the scale of the user base today compared to when he started developing packages. That moment of clarity when you realise that you need to prepare things in order for people you don’t know to pick up and use them efficiently, lies at the heart of good programming practice but sometimes is easily forgotten. This has driven Hadley on, to create better and easier codebases that are central platforms but also initiating others thoughts and developments.

It was great to hear someone like Hadley acknowledge that innovation isn’t a straight line and that forking and dead ends are essential parts of the process. Speaking to attendees afterwards, this message was highly prized and it felt as though there was an increased confidence with many attendees to go out and try things without the fear of failure.

All in all a fantastic evening that reinforced just how great the R community is.

If you’d like to view Hadley’s LondonR presentation, you can download it here.