Hosting Data Apps

R is the language of statistical computing, Shiny is the fastest way to build interactive data science applications.

Shiny from RStudio

What is R

R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of operating systems.

Visit the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) for installation instructions.

R, either using its base functionality or the tidyverse packages, is superb for both interactive and non-interactive use.

What is Shiny

Shiny is an R extension package that that makes it easy to build interactive web apps. This is the reason it is ideal for quickly making prototypes, but it is also a decent choice for building production-ready applications.


Shiny combines the power of R with the interactivity of the modern web. See this tutorial and book for accessible introductions.

Installing Shiny

Once you have R installed, it is also useful to have an integrated development environment (IDE): pick either the free RStudio Desktop or VS Code with R language support.

Install Shiny by running the following line in R:


A Shiny example

The following simple example draws a histogram of randomly generated numbers between 0 and 1. As you increase the number of observations, the top of the distribution changes slightly:

Shiny from RStudio

We are going to build this simple Shiny app next.

Structure of a Shiny app

The following sections will show how Shiny apps are structured:

  1. the user interface (UI),
  2. the server function,
  3. and the app that contains the UI and the server.

Hosting Data Apps

Last updated on by Peter Solymos