57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2005
Having read material by Dr. Murrell in R news and other places, I was expecting a great book. I was not disappointed. This is the clearest and most complete explanation of graphics in R that I have seen.
It's in 2 parts (or maybe 2 1/2). The first deals with the 'traditional' graphics system, the second with the Grid graphics system. Also included is an discussion of the Lattice package (that's the 1/2), and various other packages.
My only caveat is that you will probably want to be at least a little familiar with R before using this book. There's a brief introduction to R in an appendix, but it isn't, and doesn't pretend to be, comprehensive. However, there are extensive references to material that can help the novice learn more about R.
In my opinion, R is the best program for statistical graphics, and this is the best book on how to get the most out of it.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2007
The book provides a good introduction to the R graphics system and gives a very good presentation of the kinds of graphs you can generate using R. This book is definitely not a how-to or cookbook for R graphics though. The book assumes the reader is already familiar with R and the graphics related commands, so there's not much explanation of the short code snippets that go along with the figures. If you're new to R, this book won't show you how to create graphs. It will show you the graphing capabilities of R though and possibly get you interested enough to keep using R.
If you do know R, what this book *will* show you is how to do more complex things with R graphics. Half the book covers the traditional graphics model, while the other half covers the Grid and Trellis graphics models. This will be the interesting part of the book because Grid and Trellis look like they let users create really neat graphs and data representations with R.
I would have liked to see some more complete examples in the book, but at least there's an accompanying website that contains all the code used to generate the graphs and errata for the book. This would be a good addition to an R user's bookshelf.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2008
I am new to R and needed to create a particular style of heat map for a project. I spent 3 weeks studying this book's table of contents, sample chapter, examples on the author's website, etc. until the day came when I needed prepare my presentation. So I went ahead and bought the book. It was not what I needed and, in fact, I have not found it useful in the 2 months that I have owned it. Before the book even arrived I discovered the R Graph Gallery ([...]), which has a heat map that met my needs. My advice to those who are beginning to learn R is to be patient and use the many free, high-quality resources available on the internet for perhaps up to a year before starting to buy books.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2006
Unleashing the power of R, particularly its graphing capabilities can be a daunting task. This is a well written book that covers all aspects of R graphics and gives plently of examples (with code). After using R for nearly 3 years now, I learned quite a bit of new information. Plus, the last 2 chapters of the book are very advanced and will likely require another 3 years before I can actually fully use them. Regardless, this a great book for people new and old to R.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2008
R is a free software system that runs under Windows, Linux, and the Mac OS. R comprises a programming language, considerable support for statistical computing, and a set of powerful graphics functions. Murrell's book is about graphics.
Graphics in R is done using various packages. One is "graphics", and its description occupies the first half of Murrell's book. But these days "graphics" is looking a little long in the tooth, and contains a number of infelicities that can't be changed because of all the old legacy code out there. Murrell himself wrote "grid" to fix this problem; "grid" is more general and better organized, but its functions are a toolkit for creating graphics; he's only built the tools, not assembled all the elements into simple and easy-to-use high-level plotting functions that "graphics" has. "Grid" occupies the second half of this book. Sandwiched in the middle is a chapter about "Lattice" (by Deepayan Sarkar); Murrell's chapter provides a brief overview, in part because lattice is built on grid, but lattice is better described by the online documentation, Sarkar's own book, and the books by William Cleveland, which introduced the whole idea of conditioned plotting of multivariate data. There's also an helpful (but brief) appendix describing how to get "graphics" and "grid" to work together, and an introduction to programming in R, which is too brief to be of much use of novices, and not detailed enough to help more advanced users.
What's good: Although R comes with on-line documentation, the style of documentation for R is to describe the inputs and outputs of individual functions, but not provide much in the way of a conceptual overview. Murrell provides such an overview. Especially useful are a set of diagrams showing the various coordinate systems, lists of the line types and plotting symbols, and tables of the graphics state parameters. You could probably puzzle this out for yourself with just the built-in documentation, but Murrell's book will save you time and headaches. Also, his website has all the code that produced the book's figures, which can be quite instructive.
What's bad: The description of the "graphics" package is incomplete, and the book's index is just terrible, which makes it hard to find things. Just as an example, if you want to see what the "mai" graphics parameter does, you should be able find it in the index under either "mai" or "par", a function which sets such parameters. There is a function index, but the functions are listed by package, not in a single, alphebetical list. If you know enough to find "par" under the graphics package in the index, then you get referred to a 30-page block of text. You won't find "mai" in the index at all. Nearly useless.
Overall: R has a very powerful programmable graphics system. This book will help you use it. This book could be more complete, and begs for a decent index. A good example of a well-written and thorough book about a computer language is Guy Steele's Common Lisp; the R community hasn't gotten quite to that level yet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2009
For the most part, I've stopped using traditional R graphics. I use lattice for most of my work, and I'm not writing new graphics functions.
By page count, this book devotes ~40% to traditional R graphics, 10% to lattice, and 40% to grid, in that order. The traditional graphics coverage is good, with interesting material on margins and other layout arcana. The grid coverage is quite technical, targeted largely at developers and power-users. The 10% lattice isn't especially illuminating. The grid material does inform the mechanisms behind lattice, and show how to mix grid and lattice. The traditional graphics material, does not apply to either grid or lattice.
If you're like me, this book isn't a good "first book". It covers the basics (which i'm comfortable with) and the complex (which i don't usually need), without a lot of middle ground, especially with respect to lattice. A good alternative might be "Lattice: Multivariate Data Visualization with R by Deepayan Sarkar" or ggplot2: Elegant Graphics for Data Analysis (Use R) by Hadley Wickham.
This book is well-written, and the grid coverage is thorough, but it could use a more descriptive title.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2011
As others noted, this book targets experienced R users - it's not a 'first book on R'. It's probably most useful for intermediate to expert users - it's too much for beginners.
Other reviews discuss the contents and coverage so I won't repeat that. I'm a somewhat experienced R user - I'm still struggling to switch from SAS, but have used R exclusively for the past couple years, including a few fairly involved projects. When working with R, I'm usually (and it seems constantly) pulling an R reference off the shelf to help produce a specific product or analysis. I'd hoped this book would be like the SAS graphics documentation, with detailed descriptions of commands, good examples of code and output, and a bit of logic or 'how to'. This is a solid description of the graphics systems and it's certainly helped me understand the foundations of R graphics, but I've found it a hard-to-use reference book, and instead I'm usually pulling Venables and Ripley or something else (e.g. Crawley) off the shelf to find the specific graphics commands I need or for an example plot with the code that produced it. There are very few examples of using maps or other geographical backgrounds despite the plethora of analyses that are geographical, and the power of the maps package. If the description of the new version is accurate, it should address a number of these issues so I'd wait for the 2nd edition. I think much of the information I want is in this book, but the 'style' and organization of the book just doesn't seem to match the way I work.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2006
It is a book which systematically introduces the traditional and grid system of R graphics. I can find almost every details I want in the past two months after I got the book. Before I read the book, I have been working with R for more than 3 years, but never be very clear to view the structure of R graphics. Thanks to Dr. Paul Murrell, I am much more confident with my knowledge in this area. By the way, he has kindly helped me by email to solve several layout()problems.
on November 27, 2009
For me as biologist, it is very important to have easy acces to information about R-functions and R-graphics. This is exactly what I found in this book, a very easy and profound introduction to R-graphics with all the functions needed for Traditional graphics and the more advanced Trellis/Grid graphics. As I do not need to create more complicated graphics then common histograms, boxplots and barplots with Traditional and Trellis graphics, I do not use the chapters on the Grid Graphics Model etc., but I guess that also this part is very easy to understand. Figures shown in the book are informative and can serve as examples how to present your data. Any R-functions needed are within can be found in the text.
Although you can find any R-functions for graphics on the web, this book, which goes through the whole process of creating graphics, is a very convenient tool to use. And this is also true for R-beginners, such as I was recently.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
If you want to learn about exotic and irrelevant graphs, such as maps of the coastline of New Zealand, then this book is for you. On the other hand, this book completely fails to address the graphical needs of 99.9% of real world data analysts. If you are one of these, don't waste your money and time. Any introductory text on R, such as R in Action by Kabacoff, will serve you better.