Today we are very excited to announce that RStudio has a new name: Posit. This is a big change, and below we’ll talk about exactly why we are doing this and what it means. But first—why Posit? Posit is a real word that means to put forth an idea for discussion. Data scientists spend much of their day positing claims that they then evaluate with data. When considering a new name for the company we wanted something that reflects both the work our community engages in (testing hypotheses!) as well as the scientific aspiration to build ever- greater levels of knowledge and understanding.
The R and RStudio communities have become something very special. We’ve helped people pose and answer difficult and consequential questions with data. We’ve built open source tools to make “code-first” data science accessible and approachable to millions of people, and established reproducibility as a baseline expectation for analysis and communication. And around all of this we’ve seen the development of an inclusive, supportive, diverse community, sincerely interested in empowering each other to do more.
One of the central ideas that this community has rallied behind is the belief that it’s imperative to use open source software for scientific work. Scientific work needs to be reproducible, resilient (not captive to a software vendor), and must encourage broad participation in the creation of the tools themselves. At the same time, it is challenging to secure long-term, sustainable funding for the open source software needed to make this happen.
As the community has grown and we’ve seen the impact of our collective efforts, we have realized that one of the most important problems that RStudio has solved is melding its core mission of creating open source software with the imperatives of sustaining a commercial enterprise. This is a tricky business, and especially so today, as corporations are frequently forced into doing whatever it takes to sustain growth and provide returns to shareholders, even against the interests of their own customers! To avoid this problem and codify our mission into our company charter, we re-incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2019.
Our charter defines our mission as the creation of free and open source software for data science, scientific research, and technical communication. This mission intentionally goes beyond “R for Data Science”—we hope to take the approach that’s succeeded with R and apply it more broadly. We want to build a company that is around in 100 years time that continues to have a positive impact on science and technical communication. We’ve only just started along this road: we’re experimenting with tools for Python and our new Quarto project aims to impact scientific communication far beyond data science.
In many ways we are at the outset of a new phase of RStudio’s development. For the first phase, we made the potentially confusing decision of naming our company after our IDE that was initially focused on R users. We kept that name even as our offerings grew to much more than just an IDE, and served many languages apart from R. While that made sense at the time, it’s become increasingly challenging to keep that name as our charter has grown broader.
While we of course feel sad moving away from the RStudio name that’s served us so well, we also feel excited about the future of Posit. We’re thrilled that we found a name that we think so accurately captures what people do with our tools and we’re excited to make our broader mission more clear to the outside world. We’re also happy that the RStudio name will live on, retaining its original purpose: identifying the best IDE for data science with R.
What does the new name mean for our commercial software? In many ways, nothing: our commercial products have supported Python for over 2 years. But we will rename them to Posit Connect, Posit Workbench, and Posit Package Manager so it’s easier for folks to understand that we support more than just R. What about our open source software? Similarly, not much is changing: our open source software is and will continue to be predominantly for R. That said, over the past few years we’ve already been investing in other languages like reticulate (calling Python from R), Python features for the IDE, and support for Python and Julia within Quarto. You can expect to see more multilanguage experiments in the future.
So while you will see our name change in a bunch of places (including our main corporate website), we are still continuing on the same path. That path has widened as we have succeeded in the original mission, and we are excited at the chance to bring what we all love so much about the R community to everyone.