I have used R for about six years now. Over the years I’ve done the majority of my coding in Linux and so R has been nothing more than a terminal. I enjoy the simplicity and purity of the terminal but have recently given R Studio and Revolution R a try.
R Studio is a free and open source IDE that can be run on Windows, Linux, Mac, or even over the web. I have only tried the Linux and Windows versions thus far. Revolution R is a commercial endeavor that provides some additional functionality and support to R. I have only tried Revolution R in Windows. Here are my first impressions:
R Studio is polished aesthetically and has proven thus far to be quite robust (doesn’t crash). I really love the integrated plot with the easy options for exporting plots. The integrated file manager is also quite useful. The ability to use R Studio in multiple computing environments is also a huge advantage. Overall I am very pleased with my experience using R Studio. It is an upgrade from the default R GUI and isn’t bloated with unnecessary features.
Revolution R has a very polished and familiar feeling GUI since it is done in Visual Studio. After experiencing the integrated plot in R Studio, I find the pop-up window plot a bit cumbersome. A plotting window that could be docked would be a nice feature. The next criticism involves the lack of a button for killing a script. I tend to try things that are sometimes computationally reckless and killing the script is a must so I don’t run out of memory. It may sound silly, but this is a bit of a deal breaker for me because I get grumpy when I have to kill the whole application when all I really need to do is kill my reckless script. Lastly, Revolution R does not allow you to auto-fill words by hitting TAB (something you become quite accustomed to in the Linux terminal). This lack of functionality pushed me over the edge and over to R Studio because I can’t stand typing long words when hitting TAB is so second nature.
The Winner: R Studio I think Revolution R is a fantastic idea and hope the company does well, but right now R Studio is the better IDE.