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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

1st Edition

Interactive Data Analysis and Visualization with R Shiny

September 25th-29th, 2017, Barcelona (Spain)

Interactive Data Analysis and Visualization with R Shiny

This course is for individuals considering developing Shiny apps to deliver their research. Thus, the goal will be to teach the skills necessary to translate static products (your current analysis in R) to dynamic products delivered via a simple web-based graphic-user interface.

After a brief survey of the available basic tools (widgets such as slider bars, check boxes, and pick lists), we will move quickly to learn more advanced interactive features.

Activities interspersed throughout the class will provide hands-on practice with sample biological and ecological data. By the end of the course, students will have built a portfolio of example code and will have designed, constructed, and published at least one example Shiny app.

Why Shiny?

Shiny turns static data products into interactive web apps. With interactive and reactive data visualizations, your audience directly engages with your data for stronger communication and better understanding. The Shiny apps can easily be launched directly to the web via shinyapps.io or Shiny Server to be run by anyone (they don’t need to download your data or have R!).

Other Shiny examples: K-means (statistics), TreeViewer (visualization of phylogenetic trees), Word Cloud (generator of word clouds).


Centre de Restauració i Interpretació Paleontològica

C/ Mestre J. Lladós, 1
08781 Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona.

How to get there




35 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School and ForBio.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Ashton Drew instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Ashton Drew
KDV Decision Analysis LLC
United States of America


Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano
Transmitting Science

Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science


This course is suitable for students that already have the basic R skills to open data and run analyses or build a basic figure – but who have no or limited prior experience with Shiny. A laptop with current versions of R and R Studio installed. A list of packages to preinstall will be sent to participants before the course.


Monday, September 25th, 2017. Orientation and Introduction to Shiny.

  • Morning: Getting everyone up and running.
    • Overview of course procedures and expectations.
    • Demonstration of Shiny products.
    • Free publishing options with ShinyUI and RPub.
  • Afternoon: A First Shiny App.
    • Basic components: User Interface and Server components.
    • Overview of available widgets (slider bars, pick lists, check boxes, etc.).
    • Build basic apps: Use simple published examples as a guide, transcribe the code to work with a new dataset.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017. Focus on the User Interface.

  • Morning: Common applications of Shiny (more practice with widgets).
    • More practice with basic widgets to select parameters, subset data, etc.
    • Build a basic Shiny app for your own data (or a class sample dataset).
  • Afternoon: Dashboard Design Tools and Options.
    • UI layout autoscaling vs. absolute position.
    • Tabs and navigation bars.
    • Conditional panels.
    • More hands-on practice with your own data (or a class sample dataset).

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017. Focus on Shiny Server.

  • Morning: Putting the right code in the right places.
    • What happens when you run Shiny? (and where are all your data objects?).
    • Where and when to load data, libraries, and functions.
    • Troubleshooting common problems.
  • Afternoon: Reactive Programming.
    • Base reactivity on project selection, data subset selection, or parameter selection.
    • Use submit and isolate to manage conditional reactivity.
    • Add a reactive element and submit button to your Shiny app built on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 28th, 2017. More Reactivity and More Practice.

  • Morning: Interactive Plots.
    • Use click, double click, hover, and brush to select data subsets from a plot.
    • Build interactive plot using base plot and ggplot with your own data (or a class sample dataset).
    • Build an interactive plot using ggplot with your own data (or a class sample dataset).
    • Add code to print results of an interactive session.
  • Afternoon: More hands-on practice and catch-up.
    • Successfully complete at least one of five possible exercises to ensure understanding and practice troubleshooting.

Friday, September 29th, 2017. Publishing Shiny Material.

  • Morning: Simple Sharing.
    • Advice on file managemet for easy sharing.
    • Orientation to RStudio’s hosting service, Shinyapps.io.
    • Brief comments on other advanced sharing options (Shiny Server, GitHub, etc.).
    • Share one of your apps with a classmate using zipped folder or Shinyapps.io.
  • Afternoon: Shiny with R Markdown (Optional, or more practice building example apps).
    • Intergrating Shiny content into R Markdown documents.
    • Publishing results of reactive programming to an R Markdown report.


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until May 31st, 2017):
  • 440
  • Regular (after May 31st, 2017):
  • 615
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches.
    (VAT included)
  • Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until May 31st, 2017):
  • 360
  • Regular (after May 31st, 2017):
  • 360
  • This includes local transportation, lodging, breakfasts, dinners and social (tourist) activities.
    (VAT included)
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until May 31st, 2017):
  • 800
  • Regular (after May31st, 2017):
  • 975
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, local transportation, lodging, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and social (tourist) activities.
    (VAT included)

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinators). Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


If you take the Accommodation Package you will be hosted in the Youth Hostel Can Roviralta, in shared dormitories (common bathrooms), although you will only share rooms with other classmates. The possibility exists that the dormitories will be mixed. Therefore, if this is an inconvenience for you, and you require staying in a dormitory with only women, or only men, please indicate so in the “Comments” field of the Registration form (see below).

A supplemental charge will be added if you prefer to stay in a single room with private bathroom. The number of rooms is limited and if you prefer to have a single room, let us know it as soon as possible. If you want more information on this please contact the course coordinators.

Please be aware that from the centre of Barcelona city it takes about one hour by car and one hour and a half by public transport to arrive to Els Hostalets de Pierola. Course participants will find that staying in Els Hostalets de Pierola is more convenient.

If you do not want the Accommodation Package, accommodation is available in places other than Els Hostalets de Pierola. You may stay in Barcelona city, Martorell or Igualada. You will find information about Hotels in Martorell here, and information about Hotels in Igualada here.

How to get to Els Hostalets de Pierola from Barcelona city, Martorell and Igualada.

Youth Hostel Can Roviralta (Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona, Spain)


Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Unfortunately there are no scholarships available for this course. However a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Spanish unemployed scientists, as well as Spanish PhD students without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinators. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


Course ScheduleCourse + Accommodation Package Schedule
Sunday, September 24th, 201719:00 Meeting point in Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) to take the bus to Els Hostalets de Pierola. If you are planning to arrive later, you can find more information in How to get there.
20:00 Registration in the Youth Hostel.
20:30 Dinner.
Monday, September 25th through Friday, September 29th, 20179:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

8:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.
20:30 Dinner.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

Saturday, September 30th, 20178:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
9:15 Meeting point in the Youth Hostel to take the bus to visit a wine cellar.
10:00 Arrival at the wine cellar.
11:30 Bus to Barcelona city.
13:00 Arrival at Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona).

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


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