Research collaboration in the Cloud: Plotly and Authorea


Wikipedia and Github host code and articles. The content is produced on collaborative, web-based platforms. As of January 9, 2014, Wikipedia reports having 4,420,275 articles. GitHub recently announced having 10 million public repositories.

Plotly and Authorea, together, now provide similar platforms; ours are for research content, data analysis, graphing, and scholarly publications. We are happy to announce a partnership between Plotly and Authorea that gives you a free suite of powerful, collaborative tools for doing your analysis, graphing, coding, and publication. Authorea and Plotly, together, can power your research collaboration.

Figure 1. A scatterplot of life expectancy by GDP per capita inspired by Hans Rosling's research. Bubble size shows country population, color coded by continent. This is not a static plot! If you hover your mouse over the data in the image above you can see the data points. If you drag your mouse, you'll zoom into the plot. Double click to zoom back out. If you click through, you can save, edit, and fork a copy. This plot was included in Authorea using the following snippet of code: <iframe id="igraph" src="" frameBorder="0" width="830" height="500" seamless="seamless" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Plotly and Authorea


Plotly is a collaborative data analysis and graphing tool. Plotly lets you access, analyze, and visualize data. Instead of collaborating by emailing a data set, script, graphs, screenshots, and explanations to your team, Plotly lets you work with others online, commenting on projects and saving revisions.

When you see a Plotly graph, on Plotly or in an iframe (like in this paper), you can see the data used to create a graph. Try it out and press the "data and graph" option. Pairing graphs and the relevant data like this solves a real problem; a recent study showed that, twenty years after publication in 1991, 80 percent of data used in scientific papers was no longer available. Solution. Plotly hosts data, code, and graphs together, and lets you fork your own versions (see e.g., this Washington Post article).

How it works. Plotly offers a) a graphing GUI with bubble charts, box plots, line charts, area charts, scatter plots, histograms, 2D histograms, heatmaps, log axes, error bars, date axes, multiple axes, subplots, and insets, b) APIs for Python, R, MATLAB, REST, Julia, Arduino, and Perl, c) a Python sandbox and support for NumPy, LaTeX, pandas, datetime, and IPython Notebook support, d) a grid with fits, functions, stats, ANOVAs, and more.


Authorea is a tool to write research documents in collaboration. The post you are reading was written in Authorea! Collaborating on scholarly papers with a mix of emailed documents, drafts, lost revisions, and comments is inefficient and painful. Authorea puts the whole publication tookit online: an interactive GUI, revision history, comments, and beautiful rendering for images, citations, graphs, LaTeX, mathematical notation. Want to see how equations render in a paper? Here's the Harmonic Wave Function, \(y(x,t) = A\sin \left[ {k(x - \upsilon t)} \right]\), and the Gamma Function: \[\Gamma \left( x \right) = \int\limits_0^\infty {s^{x - 1} e^{ - s} ds}\]

Plotly inside Authorea documents

One important new feature of Authorea is that it now allows seamless and easy inclusion of Plotly graphs, like the one in Figures 1 and 2. The graph below (Figure 2), for example, plots each combination of available points against one another, as explained in this IPython Notebook by Christopher Fonnesbeck. As for the previous plot, don't miss the interactive component of this graphic: hover, drag and click your mouse over the data to play with it. For more bubble charts, you can see this IPython Notebook or a post on showing multiple dimensions with a bubble chart.