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An Example of How R Can Improve Your Workflow

David Keyes David Keyes
September 20th, 2019

I often tell people that R can improve their workflow. But, as everyone knows, showing is better than telling. So, in that spirit, I made a video to demonstrate one way in which R can improve your efficiency.

I often work with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. My old workflow was as follows:

  1. Go to the Census Bureau website

  2. Downloading the data I need

  3. Use the data to make charts in Excel

  4. Copy these charts into Word

  5. Write my report in Word

Since I switched to R, I've been able to do all 5 steps in R. Using the tidycensus package along with RMarkdown, I can find the data I need from the Census Bureau, import it, make charts, and write my report in a single RMarkdown document. When I'm ready to share my results, I simply export (aka knit) to a format that I can share, like Word.

This new R-based workflow is a huge timesaver even if you only make one chart (as I do in the video). But, if you make, say, 50 charts, imagine how much time you can save. Simply copy the code you used to import the data and make your first graph, change it in a couple places to get different data, and you can have new charts ready.

As I've written, R is, at its core, a workflow tool. Now I have an example to show people just how it can be in improving their workflow.

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