Activities and Insights for R: Monthly Summary of Selected Trends – December 2018 Activities and Insights for R: Monthly Summary of Selected Trends – December 2018
In December, activities across the R ecosystem reduced from levels observed in November. This was notable in StackOverflow, meetup events, and... Activities and Insights for R: Monthly Summary of Selected Trends – December 2018

In December, activities across the R ecosystem reduced from levels observed in November. This was notable in StackOverflow, meetup events, and in the downloads of R packages. The December holidays likely caused this general reduction in activities. However, the first two weeks in December saw great activity in meetup events. A summary of selected trends, activities, and insights for R language in December 2018 are presented.

Data for the trends and activities summarized here were obtained from popular websites used by the R community such as Google, GitHub, StackOverflow, Rstudio, METACRAN, and R-Bloggers

  1. StackOverflow

Activity decreased significantly at StackOverflow in December for the R language compared to November.

Number of StackOverflow Questions tagged R: 3,781 (26%  down from November)

Number of Answers for R questions:  3,921 (13.8%  down from November)

Number of Comments for R questions:  6,956 (26% down from November)

Page Views for R questions: 155,185  (11% down from November)

Source: https://data.stackexchange.com

The chart below shows the distribution of the questions, answers, and comments for R at StackOverflow

Figure 1

  1. R/Packages Downloads

The data for this section is obtained through the API of METACRAN’s  service that could be found here:

METACRAN obtains the download summaries from the RStudio  CRAN mirror taken from http://cran-logs.rstudio.com/ This is one very popular download mirror for the R language due to the popularity of the RStudio IDE for R.

Base R downloads:  101,883 (26% down from November)

The chart in Figure 2 shows the distribution of base R downloads among the computer operating systems from which R was downloaded.

Figure 2

The table above gives a count of downloads by operating systems.

OS Downloads
1 NA 311
3 src 3867
2 osx 22605
4 win 75100


The chart in Figure 3 shows the number of downloads by R versions. Many users installed the latest version – 3.5.2 – of R released in December. From the chart, it is clear that there are users of R that still make use of older R versions e.g. version 2.x.x series.

insights for R

Figure 3

R Packages Downloads:  58,582,203 (27.6%  down from November)

Package downloads decreased significantly this December compared to November. However, R packages were still downloaded above 1M times on the 25th of December.

Figure 4 is a chart that shows the daily download variation of R packages in December.

insights for R

Figure 4

Ratio of Base R downloads to R Package downloads: 1 : 575

Thus, for each download of base R, there are over 575 extension packages downloaded. The use of R depends largely on extension packages.

Figure 5 is a chart visualizing the ratio of Base R downloads to R packages downloads

insights for R

Figure 5

Top Packages (December, 2018):

Sum of Downloads for Top 50 packages:  19,195,945

 (27.9% down from November)

Download contribution of Top 50 packages amongst other 13,000+ CRAN packages: 32.8%

(i.e,  ~33% of total R package downloads came from Top 50 packages in December)

Figure 6

Below is a chart in Figure 7 showing the top 50 downloaded packages based on their download counts.

Figure 7

Sum of Downloads for Top 100 packages:  30,217,638 (27.8% down from November)

Download contribution of Top 100 amongst other 13,000+ CRAN packages:  51.6%

(i.e, about 52% of R package downloads came from Top 100)

insights for R

Figure 8

Top 10 Packages and their Primary Maintainers:

S/N Package Primary Maintainers Downloads
1 Rcpp Dirk Eddelbuettel 680764
2 rlang Lionel Henry 643155
3 ggplot2 Hadley Wickham 570043
4 WGCNA Peter Langfelder 513809
5 dplyr Hadley Wickham 509166
6 pillar Kirill Müller 456744
7 yaml Jeremy Stephens 451893
8 glue Jim Hester 447211
9 jsonlite Jeroen Ooms 445119
10 digest Dirk Eddelbuettel 437260


Hadley Wickham and Dirk Eddelbuetel dominate the top 10 by both number of packages and downloads from the list above.

  1. GitHub

The Top 10 R repositories that appeared on GitHub’s trends in December are:

  1. gt
  2. ProgrammingAssignment
  3. ESL-CN
  4. ggplot2
  5. dplyr
  6. awesome-network-analysis
  7. geocompr
  8. vitae
  9. tidytuesday
  10. MachineShop

The chart of Figure 9 shows the number of stars gotten in December for  top 10 trending repositories in December based on data from https://github.com/trending/r?since=monthly on January 2, 2019

insights for R

Figure 9

  1. R Meetings/Events

The RStudio Community website provides a weekly list of R user-group meetings and conference events curated from meetup.com and elsewhere. The data found on this website is the basis for the following analysis.

There were 100  events in about 28 countries (7%  down in events from November)

35 events out of 100 (~35% of events) were held in the United States of America; 12 in the UK, 6 in Australia, 5 in Taiwan and 4 in Ireland and Hungary, etc

Country Events
1 Australia 6
2 Austria 1
3 Belgium 1
4 Brazil 1
5 Canada 2
6 Costa Rica 1
7 Ecuador 1
8 Finland 1
9 France 1
10 Germany 3
11 Hungary 4
12 India 1
13 Ireland 4
14 Israel 1
15 Italy 1
16 Mexico 1
17 Netherlands 3
18 New Zealand 1
19 Nigeria 2
20 Norway 2
21 Philippines 1
22 Poland 3
23 South Africa 2
24 Spain 1
25 Switzerland 3
26 Taiwan 5
27 United Kingdom 12
28 United States 35


A world map showing the distribution of R events across 28 countries can be found in Figure 10a

insights for R

Figure 10a

Figure 10b shows the event distribution across the 28 countries in a bbar chart

insights for R

Figure 10b

A weekly summary of events compared with countries for the month is shown in the bar chart of Figure 11. A consistent diminishing of event numbers as the year ran out was the case.

insights for R

Figure 11


41 events out of 100 (41% of events) were R-Ladies events

  1. R Bloggers

Rbloggers.com is the most popular news aggregation website for blog posts related to the R language. There were about 227 blog posts at Rbloggers.com in December. An average of about 7 posts / day.

  1. Google Trends

The chart below show Google Trends for the R language in December with search trends dipping significantly during the holidays. Compared the chart of Figure 12 with the download variation for R packages of Figure 4.

insights for R

Figure 12

Based on Interest by region, the Top 5 countries in December with hithe ghest search activity on Google are:

  1. Philippines
  2. China
  3. South Korea
  4. Georgia
  5. St. Helena

Source: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2018-12-01%202018-12-31&q=%2Fm%2F0212jm

  1. R Language Ranking:

TIOBE Index: 16th   in December, 2018

Redmonk: 14th in June, 2018

  1. R Consortium

The results of the Call for proposals by the R Consortium are expected to be announced early in 2019.


R Central is a developing aggregation website for news, trends and activities around the R language. It provides a dashboard  which is suitable as a browser homepage that lists posts from popular sources like CRAN, R-devel, Twitter, Rbloggers, Crantastic, RWeekly, Microsoft, RConsortium, StackOverflow and several others.

Reference Links

Web: https://r-central.com

Twitter: @rcentrrall

R Central

R Central

R Central is an aggregation website for news, trends, and activities around the R language, providing a dashboard suitable as a homepage that listing posts from popular sources.