I think my first exposure to R was at PASS Summit 2016. Since then, I’ve made an effort to attend R sessions at SQL Saturdays. The one commonality I seem to find in all of them is a demo with (or mention of) the dplyr package. It’s a package of functions that manipulate data in data frame objects (think of them as SQL Server/relational tables…or if you’re a .NET developer, a System.Data.DataTable object). R feels inexorably tied to dplyr at this early stage for me. R is probably way more vast than I realize, but what would it be without dplyr? Would it still be as popular? Would it still be as powerful?
What’s It Good For
I’m not sure if I’m perceiving this the right way yet, but dplyr sure feels a lot like LINQ, a .NET Framework technology that provides query-like capability for C#. For instance, you can select a subset of objects from an array, sort them, find a minimum or maximum, etc. It’s kind of like querying SQL Server, just without SQL Server.
I like the comparison of dplyr against LINQ, as they’re both data querying and transformation tools whose motif is a series of functions chained together.