7 thoughts on “Programming book I wish someone would write: R, The Good Parts”
Bill, I agree. It’s hard to find books that are small because the authors thought hard about what to include and resisted the urge to include everything they know.
Here’s another good small book: The Essence of SQL
definitely needed. definitely tricky to write.
In case you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, I think The R Inferno [PDF], is a must read for any R user … it’s both informative and entertaining. With an abstract like “If you are using R and you think you’re in hell, this is a map for you”, how can you go wrong :-)
Patrick Burns also has some other tutorials that are handy that you can get from his site.
I second the recommendation of the ‘The R Inferno’. It’s a wonderful document, and I have learned so much from it that would have taken years to learn ‘the hard way’. I almost think it should be required reading for every R user.
I think the Inferno covers the “R, The Bad Parts” area; I agree that I would like to see a complement that addresses the areas in which it excels. I think it would have to cover the apply() family and the ease of writing ad hoc functions.
I agree that there is some poorly written and maintained code available for R – I know I’ve written my fair share – but the flexibility and adaptability that comes from R being an open source product is it’s best feature. It’s why it will succeed over slower moving more expensive packages. It would be nice not to have to deal with bad programming or unmaintained code, but the alternative is worse.
And why stop there? Every language has its strengths and weaknesses. The advocates naturally stress the strengths, but it is knowing the weaknesses that separates the master from the apprentice. This could be a whole series of books: The Jedi Guide to : Use the Force and Avoid the Dark Side