In this guest blog entry, Randall Pruim offers an alternative way based on a different formula interface. Here's Randall:

For a number of years I and several of my colleagues have been teaching R to beginners using an approach that includes a combination of

- the
`lattice`

package for graphics, - several functions from the
`stats`

package for modeling (e.g.,`lm(), t.test()`

), and - the
`mosaic`

package for numerical summaries and for smoothing over edge cases and inconsistencies in the other two components.

**goal ( y ~ x , data = mydata, ... )**

Many data analysis operations can be executed by filling in four pieces of information (goal, y, x, and mydata) with the appropriate information for the desired task. This allows students to become fluent quickly with a powerful, coherent toolkit for data analysis.

Trouble in paradise

As the earlier post noted, the use of

`lattice`

has some drawbacks. While basic graphs like histograms, boxplots, scatterplots, and quantile-quantile plots are simple to make with `lattice`

, it is challenging to combine these simple plots into more complex plots or to plot data from multiple data sources. Splitting data into subgroups and either overlaying with multiple colors or separating into sub-plots (facets) is easy, but the labeling of such plots is not as convenient (and takes more space) than the equivalent plots made with `ggplot2`

. And in our experience, students generally find the look of `ggplot2`

graphics more appealing.`ggplot2`

into a first course is challenging. The syntax tends to be more verbose, so it takes up more of the limited space on projected images and course handouts. More importantly, the syntax is entirely unrelated to the syntax used for other aspects of the course. For those adopting a “Less Volume, More Creativity” approach, `ggplot2`

is tough to justify.`ggformula`

, an R package that provides a formula interface to `ggplot2 `

graphics. Our hope is that this provides the best aspects of `lattice`

(the formula interface and lighter syntax) and `ggplot2`

(modularity, layering, and better visual aesthetics).`gf`

. Here are two examples, either of which could replace the side-by-side boxplots made with `lattice`

in the previous post.`%>%`

, also commonly called a pipe) between the two layers and adjust the transparency so we can see both where they overlap.`ggformula `

package provides two ways to create these facets. The first uses `|`

very much like `lattice`

does. Notice that the `gf_lm()`

layer inherits information from the the `gf_points()`

layer in these plots, saving some typing when the information is the same in multiple layers.`gf_facet_wrap()`

or `gf_facet_grid()`

and can be more convenient for complex plots or when customization of facets is desired.`ggformala`

also fits into a tidyverse-style workflow (arguably better than `ggplot2`

itself does). Data can be piped into the initial call to a `ggformula`

function and there is no need to switch between `%>%`

and `+`

when moving from data transformations to plot operations.`ggformula`

strengthens this approach by bringing a richer graphical system into reach for beginners without introducing new syntactical structures. The full range of `ggplot2`

features and customizations remains available, and the `ggformula`

package vignettes and tutorials describe these in more detail.