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 6 January, 2022

So, you want to become an R Shiny Developer? 2022 is the year to do it. Learning a new language, library, or framework can be stressful – even expensive at times! That’s why we decided to share the 7 best R Shiny books and courses you can follow from the comfort of your home completely free of charge.

You should have at least the basic R programming skills under your toolbelt if you want to become proficient in R Shiny. Some of the top 7 R Shiny books and courses you’ll see below provide a brief refresher in R, but it shouldn’t be your first exposure to the language.

Want to get hired as an R Shiny Developer at Appsilon? Read our complete getting started guide.

Table of contents:

covers and hero images of the best R Shiny books and courses


Best R Shiny Books

Mastering Shiny by Hadley Wickham

This book is brutally easy to recommend. Not only because it was published by a reputable author and publisher, but because it has a free online version!

The Mastering Shiny book was written with the aim of taking you from an absolute beginner in Shiny to writing large and complex but at the same time maintainable and performant applications. You’ll learn a lot about reactive elements and reactive programming which are core concepts in Shiny. The book also teaches you how to work with graphics, layouts, and themes in Shiny, and how to handle user feedback.

Read Mastering Shiny online for free.

Outstanding User Interfaces With Shiny by David Granjon

This book was intended to release in 2021 Q4 by Chapman & Hall and is the result of three years of work. The Outstanding User Interfaces With Shiny is aimed towards more experienced Shiny users who want to learn more about the underlying web technologies.

If you want to add a more professional and polished look, design amazing and interactive input widgets, better handle JavaScript and CSS, develop mobile-friendly templates, and include React in your Shiny apps – this is the book for you.

As with the previous one in the list, it also has an online version available you can access free of charge!

Read Outstanding User Interfaces With Shiny for free.

Engineering Production-Grade Shiny Apps by Colin Fay

The Engineering Production-Grade Shiny Apps is a must-read by Colin Fay, Sebastien Rochette, Vincent Guyader, and Cervan Girard. It was published in print by Chapman & Hall, but it also has an online version that’s free of charge.

This book is not aimed towards beginners in R Shiny. It teaches you the process of building an application that will later be used in production, and it does it really well. The authors decided to cover this topic after finding a gap in existing materials. Lots of books and articles talk about getting started in R Shiny and what to do once your application is production-ready, but everyone seems to neglect the area in-between.

If you have a working knowledge of R Shiny and want to take it a step further, then this is the book for you.

Read Engineering Production-Grade Shiny Apps for free.

The Shiny AWS Book by Matt Dancho

A big problem in data science is that no one talks about deploying data science web applications (or not enough at least). That’s where The Shiny AWS Book comes into play. It teaches you several powerful DevOps technologies, including Amazon AWS, Shiny Server, Docker, Git, and NGINX. All allow you to deploy R Shiny web applications in different ways.

The book starts with a brief AWS overview and teaches you how to set up and connect to an EC2 instance. You’ll then learn everything you need to know about Docker and Github for web application deployment and finish strong with a networking and security section. Oh, almost forgot – it’s available for free!

Read The Shiny AWS Book for free.

JavaScript 4 Shiny by Colin Fay

JavaScript 4 Shiny isn’t necessarily a book, but a collection of notes taken by Colin Fay during an informal JavaScript training. Most of the content is composed of pieces of code and the author’s comments, without complete sentences. Still, it goes over basic JavaScript objects, adding JavaScript to R Shiny apps, DOM elements and events, jQuery, and building custom inputs for Shiny.

Colin is a well-known figure in the R world. If you’ve read any of his books, you already know the quality is superb. These notes maybe aren’t formatted as a book and leave some questions unanswered, but it’s still one of our top recommendations if you want to learn just enough JavaScript for R Shiny.

Read JavaScript 4 Shiny for free.

Best R Shiny Courses

How to Start Shiny by RStudio

Onto the video courses now. Books aren’t always easy to digest when it comes to highly-interactive work environments. A 3-hour video course can easily cover the same materials as a 500-page book, if not more. The thing with video courses is they’ll take much more time to complete than advertised. If you’re new to R Shiny, watching a 3-hour course could take you 3 days, due to constant pausing and checking your code.

If you’re more of a visual person, then How to Start Shiny by RStudio is the best place to start learning about R Shiny. It’s completely free and covers all basic concepts – from inputs, outputs, server functions, reactivity, and UI with HTML and CSS. The course by itself is enough to get started writing decent Shiny apps in no time.

Watch How to Start Shiny for free.

A gRadual intRoduction to Shiny by Ted Laderas

Back in 2018, Ted Laderas, Jessica Minnier, Pierrette Lo, and Dar’ya Pozhidayeva held a 2-hour workshop on the basic concepts of R Shiny. The workshop covers the basic architecture of R Shiny apps, how UI and server communicate with inputs and outputs, how to display data visualizations with ggplot and plotly, and much more.

The best part is – both the slides and videos are available online for free! Fundamental knowledge of the R programming language is required, with the focus on dplyr and ggplot2 packages, so keep that in mind.

Watch A Gradual Introduction to Shiny for free.


Best R Shiny Books and Courses for the New Year!

To summarize, if you’re eager to learn R Shiny in 2022, consider spending a couple of hours of spare time per week on these materials. Better yet, start coding with the examples and level up your skills.

Check out these best practices for durable R code and set yourself up for success!

There’s no need for fancy equipment or to even pay for books and courses. All 7 of the best R Shiny books and courses we listed above are completely free of charge.

That being said, we do find existing online courses somewhat basic. If you want to learn advanced concepts behind Shiny, we recommend you read a couple of books from our advanced list.

For additional learning resources, feel free to check the curated list from our blog:

How did you learn R Shiny? Did we miss your favorite book or online course? Please let us know in the comments below.



Reach out to Appsilon

Paulina Kaczmarczyk
Paulina Kaczmarczyk
Talent Acquisition