March 2, 2011

(This article was first published on Back Side Smack » R Stuff, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

All the cool kids are talking about it so I should take some time to plug RStudio, a free open source IDE for R. Unlike some of the “beginner” IDEs like Deducer, RStudio is not designed to offer menu based commands. Instead it provides a simple GUI which combines plotting, help menus, history, workspace and the console. I’ve been using it for a few days and my overall impressions are quite positive. The two best parts of the UI are the workspace browser and the image export functions. The workspace browser displays all the objects you have created in your R session and lets you quickly check their class and attributes. The image export functions are by far the coolest feature. Normally exporting images in R is somewhat laborious. You have to turn off the default device, set up a file target and then plot your work. In RStudio you just need to click a button after you have generated your plot and you can send the image in the plot device right to a file.

There are some rough edges, but overall it is a nice alternative to the standard GUI.

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