Which text editor do you use? Once in a while this question pops up on the R-help mailing list. Up until recently I used the KDE text editor Kate under Linux. Recently, I came across a new text editor for R, RStudio. Although the term text editor does not do it justice, it is more of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
RStudio is an open-source R IDE which started at the beginning of this year (2011). It divides the available area up into several panels, see also the screenshot above. One panel for source code (supporting tabs), one for the R console, one for the currently active objects/history, and finally one panel for a file browser/plot window/package install window/R help window (tabbed). The source editor supports text highlighting and allows the user to select R code and run it with a keyboard shortcut. It also supports running RStudio as a server, allowing users to access it through a web browser (although I haven’t tried it yet).
I really like RStudio for the integration it offers. You get one coherent view of your code, result in the R console and any plots your working on. Furthermore, it runs on all of the major operating systems. This makes it a very good install for Windows and Linux users who are stuck without a decent out-of-the-box development environment for R. Finally, the developers are really active and open to suggestions. It is very impressive to me that they already have such an impressive product although it has been released only at the beginning of this year.
There are also points that I think can be improved. Sometimes I want to interrupt long running commands, this sometimes causes RStudio to crash. Furthermore, I would like the ability to have more than one source file in view. RStudio has support for tabs in the source editor, but splitting the screen in the style of Kate would be awesome.
In my opinion, RStudio is one of the best solutions out there to work with R. Definitely better than for example Tinn-R or Notepad++ on Windows. Give RStudio a look and I think you’ll like it. RStudio is available on:
Updated: (Nov 12). A comment from Dirk (see below) led me to change some details in the article.