20 Most Popular R packages

Posted on Posted in Data Science, R Programming

R offers multiple packages for performing data analysis. Apart from providing an awesome interface for statistical analysis, the next best thing about R is the endless support it gets from developers and data science maestros from all over the world.

Currently, the CRAN Package repository features 11349 available packages. But the question is which packages are the most popular packages used by data science community or even even outside the data science community such as by statisticians, actuaries, etc. Beyond some of the popular packages such as caret, ggplot, dplyr, lattice, there exist many more libraries which remain unnoticeable, but prove to be very handy at certain stages of analysis. So, we created a comprehensive list of all packages in R.

I found a good resources at DataCamp track activity related to R packages on the RDocumentation.org Trends page. On that page, you can find current rankings on the most downloaded R packages, the most active maintainers, and the latest package releases and updates etc.

Find the download logs data as on date 3rd Sept, 2017 at the bottom of the post.

Below rankings are by the number of direct downloads, those initiated when an R user makes an explicit install.packages call.

Many popular packages have dependencies, however, which are also downloaded when a package is installed. Below rankings are by the number of Total downloads i.e. direct plus indirect downloads.

Short Descriptions of Popular R Packages

  • Rcpp [Seamless R and C++ Integration. (Many packages incorporate C or C++ code via this package.)]
  • R6 [Allows the creation of classes with reference semantics]
  • tibble [Provides a ‘tbl_df’ class (the ‘tibble’) that provides stricter checking and better formatting than the traditional data frame]
  • rlang [A toolbox for working with base types, core R features like the condition system, and core ‘Tidyverse’ features like tidy evaluation.]
  • ggplot2  [An implementation of the grammar of graphics in R]
  • stringr  [simple, consistent wrappers for common string operations]
  •  jsonlite [A Robust, High Performance JSON Parser and Generator for R]
  • stringi  [character string processing facilities]
  • curl [A Modern and Flexible Web Client for R]
  • digest [Create Compact Hash Digests of R Objects]
  • BH [Boost provides free peer-reviewed portable C++ source libraries]
  • dplyr [a grammar of data manipulation]
  • magrittr [A Forward-Pipe Operator for R]
  • scales [Graphical scales map data to aesthetics, and provide methods for automatically determining breaks and labels for axes and legends]
  •  plyr [Tools for Splitting, Applying and Combining Data]
  • devtools [a collection of package development tools]
  • ggplot2 [An implementation of the grammar of graphics in R]
  • reshape2  [flexibly reshape data]

Download Logs

Name Direct downloads Indirect downloads Total
1. Rcpp 39,336 235,535 274,871
2. R6 48,422 216,779 265,201
3. tibble 38,110 213,270 251,380
4. rlang 32,103 211,437 243,540
5. ggplot2 52,754 159,005 211,759
6. stringr 25,048 171,350 196,398
7. jsonlite 20,441 173,925 194,366
8. stringi 19,589 166,890 186,479
9. curl 17,058 168,232 185,290
10. digest 14,651 166,100 180,751
11. BH 31,542 147,117 178,659
12. dplyr 55,943 122,392 178,335
13. magrittr 11,459 166,435 177,894
14. scales 30,719 143,286 174,005
15. plyr 20,311 146,043 166,354
16. reshape2 26,511 133,483 159,994
17. RColorBrewer 20,553 132,077 152,630
18. pkgconfig 23,950 124,459 148,409
19. colorspace 11,300 135,918 147,218
20. lazyeval 9,500 135,981 145,481