where to start with htmlwidgets

Hi all:

I'm wanting to create some very simple interactive visualizations to include in an rmarkdown html document that would be served on the web. (I want all code to be included in the page as javascript. Thus no code running on a server, thus I don't want to use Shiny.)

My understanding is that htmlwidgets is the right tool for this. But looking at https://www.htmlwidgets.org/ has left me unsure of where I should start. I went to that page expecting to find documentation from which I could learn how to use htmlwidgets to code the visualizations I have in mind. But instead, the page seems to imply (without saying so explicitly) that I shouldn't be trying to code the interactive visualization directly in htmlwidgets, but instead should be using one of the packages built using htmlwidgets (e.g. Leaflet, dygraphs, Plotly, rbokeh, etc. etc.) to build what I want.

Have I correctly understood how users (as opposed to developers) should be using htmlwidgets? I.e. Should I start by identifying an appropriate package built using htmlwidgets BEFORE I resort to trying to use htmlwidgets directly?

If so, I'm a little unsure how to choose between the very large number of packages featured on htmlwidgets showcase. There's some that obviously aren't built for what I'm looking for (e.g. leaflet appears to be narrowly targeted at visualizing geographic data). But I'm not clear on what exactly differentiates many of them from one another. (E.g., from the showcase, there are no obvious differences between the functionality of Plotly, rbokeh and Highcharter.)

FWIW, I'm looking to do something VERY simple -- I just want to include visualizations in some online course notes that students can use to explore how the shape of a few key functions of one or two variables depend on parameter values. (e.g. how does the shape of \alpha \ln(x) + (1-\alpha) \ln(1-x) over x >0 vary as \alpha varies between 0 and 1?). If I wanted to do this using non-interactive figures, I would use ggplot() + geom_function(). (Maybe I've answer my question here...since I use ggplot for everything static, and Plotly is advertised as making ggplot2 graphics interactive, I should use Plotly?)


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