Teaching R as a command line GIS and spatial data analysis environment

In recent years, R’s spatial capabilities have increased rapidly with the development of dozens dedicated spatial packages and hundreds of proven applications in academic research and beyond. With the emergence of user friendly graphical interfaces for - such as RStudio - and ever improving documentation, R is also now more accessible than ever before. Yet R has received relatively little attention from the GIS community overall and advocates of free and open source software for geographic application (FOSS4G) in particular. In this paper we provide an argument for increased understanding and use of R as a command line application for applied GIS and demonstrate how it can be used to effortlessly undertake advanced spatial modelling and analysis and visualisation within a cohesive environment. The ultimate aim is to unleash the “tremendous amount of flexibility and power waiting for you with the command line” (Sherman 2008). Our paper is thus both conceptual and practical with reproducible code and data based around a case study on the construction, analysis and visualisation of a spatial interaction model of museum visits.