RStudio Server: accessing the RStudio R IDE through your browser

February 1, 2012
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(This article was first published on NumberTheory » R stuff, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I like having all my important documents and scripts in one single place. This saves me from having to synchronize them between the different workplaces I have, and makes backupping much less of a pain. One way of achieving this kind of functionality is to use a remote desktop connection tool (e.g. NoMachine for Linux), or an ssh connection. However, if you want access R remotely, there is another option. The excellent RStudio R IDE also has a server version. I installed this just now on my Ubuntu 10.04 machine, which was very easy and was done in about a minute. When RStudio Server is installed, it starts listening on a port of the computer it was installed on, by default port 8787. To access R from you browser, just type the ip address or name of the server, plus the port number into your browser. For example:

192.168.1.45:8787

opens RStudio in my browser (Google Chrome). The functionality and speed are equivalent to running RStudio locally. I was really impressed by this option of RStudio. Now you can work on your favorite R projects from any computer. You can even upload datasets to the server using RStudio. When a friend asks you to help working on a dataset, you can just fire up his browser and start working. I also see the potential for teaching R courses. The student now only needs access to a browser to be able to start working on the course material. He or she does not need to install R or any R packages locally.

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