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Posit (formerly RStudio) has been transitioning from an R-only ecosystem to a language-agnostic ecosystem over the last few years. To our delight, the RStudio IDE has become more Python-friendly, and the Posit data science ecosystem has evolved into “A Single Home for R & Python.”
The name that has become synonymous with open-source R development is being rebranded to better represent the company as a whole.
So, what does this imply for RStudio users? Aside from a brighter future with more capabilities, there isn’t much in the short term. The following tools and commercial products will be rebranded:
- Posit Connect = RStudio Connect
- Posit Workbench = RStudio Workbench
- Posit Package Manager = RStudio Package Manager
Posit, on the other hand, will not abandon R. So don’t worry, the RStudio IDE will continue to exist, and the leaders in open-source R development will not slow down.
Posit replaces RStudio and broadens its focus to include Python and VS Code.
RStudio is changing its name to Posit, indicating the company’s intention to broaden its focus beyond R to include Python and Visual Studio Code users. The news was made public this morning at the company’s annual user conference in Washington, D.C.
For several years, the company has emphasized that its commercial products are “bilingual” for both R and Python. The “RStudio” brand, on the other hand, has made it more difficult to persuade companies to consider its products for Python users.
What Does Posit Mean for the R Community?
As with most changes, the R community has had mixed feelings about it. Most people are excited about the prospect of expanding RStudio products into a language-agnostic data science ecosystem. Nonetheless, some believe R is losing ground to Python. Both feelings are understandable, but as the leading R Shiny consultants and one of the largest RStudio Certified Partners, we are not concerned about this change. We’re actually very excited about it.
Many of us learned about R’s power through RStudio products such as their IDE and open source packages. So, if “Posit” no longer contains the letter “R,” does this imply that the most vocal proponent of R development has abandoned us?
Appsilon, a company founded on R and Shiny, does not see it that way. We see this as an opportunity for the R community to grow, invite other communities through RStudio products, and incorporate new data analytics technologies into R.
The rebranding of RStudio (Posit) and the future of R programming
Based on a quick scroll through LinkedIn, you may be thinking, “R programming is doomed” or “the Python vs R cold war is still raging.” That’s not to say there isn’t support from the R community. There are many people who are excited about new products like Shiny for Python or who are reaffirming our belief that R is the tool to get things done. So, what’s the deal? Why are people concerned that R will be dethroned as the statistical language?
There will be only one language to rule them all.
Obviously, there is no such thing as a universal language. Nobody uses R to create AAA video games (though the future may surprise us), and I doubt you have a pure Python mobile app on your phone. In short, each language serves a distinct function. “All programming languages are bad,” goes an old but still relevant joke. They’re just bad in their own distinctive way.”
Python and R are both beginner-friendly programming languages that excel at handling large amounts of data and performing data analysis. However, each has its own set of flaws and strengths. Python appears to be in charge of machine learning and production, while R is in charge of statistical analyses and rapid proof of concept output. Both are excellent at different aspects of data science, but neither will ever completely replace the other.
Let’s be honest: RStudio is simply making its tools and resources available to other data science users, rather than diving in headfirst to overhaul the Python ecosystem. It’s highly unlikely that the RStudio IDE will be a’side’ project for RStudio (Positive), or that open-source R development will be abandoned in favor of Python projects. Python is more likely to gain useful teamwork tools, commercial support, and improved open-source tooling for general data science.
R stands for the people.
The open-source and inclusive nature of the R community defines it. Rstudio users are a diverse group of people from every field of study imaginable. R is the language of data scientists, whether they are ecologists, web developers, business analysts, or farmers.
R is successful because it is simple to learn. It has an incredible ecosystem of open-source packages developed by the community, with significant contributions from the RStudio team. RStudio’s free publication options for R/Shiny apps enable the average Jane/Joe to share their work. And there is no cleaner, more R-friendly IDE on the market than RStudio.
Python is used for everything else.
As Joe Cheng pointed out at the rstudio::conf, Python is the second best language for everything. And, yes, Python is the more popular programming language. Object-oriented programming is easier to learn when the syntax is simple. But if R were the best tool for you or us, we wouldn’t be discussing it right now.
Python is great for problem solving and creating cool things, but it isn’t the statistical powerhouse that R programming is. Whatever contributions Posit makes to Python in terms of package development or Shiny for Python, Python will never be able to compete with R in statistical computing and data visualization.
RStudio Positioning (Posit) for Data Science
RStudio announced Python support in their RStudio products a few years ago. They did this with purpose. From the beginning, their mission was to “enhance the production and consumption of knowledge by everyone, regardless of economic means.” From the switch to a PBC to the addition of Python, BI extensions, and other open source tools, RStudio’s history has always pointed to this point, whether they or we in the community realized it. They were simply ensuring that R users had everything they needed to complete their data science tasks and creating accessible tooling for everyone. And, yes, Python is used by R users! You can look through the RStudio survey data here.
- Dispel the myth that users must select between R and Python.
- Accept Python because it is used by half of our community in addition to R.
- Python adoption implies that RStudio products should support it as well.
R programming and Posit’s RStudio IDE
Now, for those of you who are new to the R community, we need to go over the basics of R and RStudio. Because, while RStudio is now synonymous with R programming, this was not always the case.
It took nearly two decades after R’s inception for the first public beta version of our favorite R IDE – RStudio – to be released. The first public release was v0.92 in 2011, sometime around the Great Pumpkin. RStudio Inc was the company behind the IDE, and its mission was to create free and open-source software for data science, scientific research, and technical communication. And, much to our advantage, they did so by concentrating on R.
RStudio was one of the first R-specific IDEs that was simple to use and provided a better way for the average user to write code and build programs without having to use your CLI.