EARL memories and Package Development in R

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This week I (Laura Swales, Community and Events Manager) spoke with Beth Ashlee and Owen Jones ahead of their EARL workshop – Package Development in R, which will take place on 7th September 2pm BST.

Hi Beth and Owen! Before we talk about what people can learn from the workshop, could you tell me a bit about yourselves?

Owen – As a Data Science Consultant,  I work on wide range of projects from a broad spectrum of industries. Most recently I’ve been working with the UK Government as part of the UK’s response to the Covid pandemic. I’m also the ValidR tech lead, which means that I do a lot of automated package testing too.

Beth – I’m a Senior Data Scientist and a Team Lead at Mango, so my role is very similar to Owen’s in that I work on a range of consultant projects. My most recent project was with a large retailer, working with them to upskill their Data Science team. Along with the consultancy work, I manage a team of Data Scientists at Mango.

You are both teaching the Package Development in R workshop at EARL – can you tell us a bit more about the workshop and what people can expect to learn?

Beth – They’re going to learn how to build a package in R (!), but more importantly, the reasons why that’s useful to do. We’ll talk about how it can make your code easier to maintain for others to use it and how to write good documentation…

Owen – There’s a lot of best practice incorporated in this workshop, in terms of how you are structuring the code you are writing and how you make it easy for yourself and others to contribute and maintain. Above all else, it’s about good practice, consistency, and code which other people can both use and look after.

Beth – All using the RStudio dev tools package!

How many EARL Conferences have you been to,  if you can remember?!

Owen- I think it’s 5 for me! Starting in 2017 with London, shortly followed by Boston EARL.

Beth – All of those for me as well, plus a San Fransico EARL in 2017 and two in Boston, so maybe 7 or 8 EARL’s!

I believe I’ve been to 8 now – the US Roadshow helped push up my EARL number quite quickly! Do you have any particularly fond memories or highlights?

Owen – I enjoyed the Shiny testing workshop that Beth and I collaborated on a few years back. We’ve both delivered workshops in the past that have always been really fun to work on.

Beth – Agreed! Other than those, I always enjoy the keynote talk because the talks are usually approachable to everyone – Jenny Bryant in Boston jumps out at me as being a great example of a keynote we’ve had. Outside of the actual conference, I and another colleague got booed off stage doing karaoke in America – which was definitely memorable!

Thank you both for talking to me – we are really looking forward to your workshop.

Beth and Owen’s workshop will run on the 7th of September and will be £90 for a half day. For more information on their workshop and to get your tickets, click here.