Dude: Where are my Cats? RStudio::Conf 2020
It may not have been the start to the conference that we planned as RStudio Full Service Certified partners. – did you see the lonely guy on social media? Yes, that was me, and I’m here to tell the tale…
Eventful as it was at the time, I have to say this was the first RStudio Conference I have had the pleasure to attend since joining Mango Solutions. The things that really stood out for me were the event’s ubiquitous and thought-through inclusivity and the fantastically run and well organised event for nearly 2400 R users worldwide. Here’s a summary of our time in San Francisco, what it had to offer and why we are immensely proud partners of RStudio.
Cat rehoming 10:41am San Francisco time
Held up in customs, the conference started without our exhibition stand, materials and conference goodies, the famous Mango cats. I remain ever thankful to the whole #rstats community, who despite this little hiccup, took pity on us and came to visit us anyway. What I was able to quickly grasp, was that this is a community that is so quickly available to support others, present a forum to share ideas and learn how to solve problems, in particular learn how others are benefiting from using R.
Public Benefit Corporation
A vital and impressive moment of the conference was the standing ovation for J.J Allaire after his announcement that RStudio had become a Public Benefit Corporation. You could feel the appreciation in the room for RStudio’s innovation and how it had pushed the R Community forward. He discussed their future plans which provides growth opportunities for the community.
From a content perspective, the RStudio::conf was a great event, filled with informative and well organised workshops and talks. As hard as it is to pick out one particular talk, it was probably Jenny Bryan’s talk: “Object of type ‘closure’ is not subsettable”; this was all about debugging in R – best approaches, available tools and hints on how to write more informative error messages in your own functions. It was engaging, informative, witty and it was relevant to pretty much every single R developer on this planet, let alone present in the room.
Amongst other things, the Mango team of Data Scientists really appreciated these packages which the RStudio team featured as part of their workshops:
- The best ways to scale up you API using plumber package
- Custom styling of Shiny apps using bootstraplib package
- Effective R code parallelization using future and furrr packages
- Load testing using loadtest package
Inclusivity all round
Inclusivity was felt not only with the RLadies breakfast, but also in having prayer rooms, quiet rooms for neurodiverse attendees, the gender-neutral bathrooms, diversity scholarships and very frequent reminders of the event’s code of conduct that revolves heavily around inclusivity and tolerance. Great organisation was shown not only in a suitable venue, but also in every effort that went into ensuring that queues for food/buses didn’t stay long, that there was enough time to change rooms between the talks and via the great entertainment/perks throughout the event.
Endless networking opportunities
RStudio::conf 2020 was a fantastic place to meet and connect with other people in the industry and gain insight into how other companies, data science teams and individuals are using R and the underlying infrastructure that supports it. For Ben our Data Platform Consultant, it was interesting and exciting to hear from a platform perspective about the needs of data science teams, and how we could potentially solve the challenges they are facing. A recurring issue seemed to be in scaling R in a production environment and the best way to do this. Ben found the Renv talk interesting and hopes to be using it more this year in place of Packrat.
For Mango it was a real pleasure to discuss at large the wealth of opportunity presented by ValidR in our validated production-ready version of R.
A huge thank you to everyone at RStudio for supporting my first conference with RStudio. It was truly a pleasure to meet the team in person and has really given Mango and RStudio the opportunity to consolidate our partnership to the next level.
Author: Rich Adams, Solutions Specialist