If you agree with me that Visual Studio is the best IDE for writing software you’ve probably missed the R language in that excellent environment. Well, after some time as a private preview, Microsoft has announced the availability of R Tools for Visual Studio as a public and free preview. As it did previously with Python Tools, R Tools for Visual Studio (RTVS) adds R language development capabilities to the popular IDE.
The main features you will find in this preview release are:
- Editor with a complete editing experience for R scripts and functions.
- IntelliSense that introduces auto completion in both the editor and the R Interactive Window.
- R Interactive Window to work with the R console directly from within Visual Studio.
- History window that shows all of the commands that you have typed into the R Interactive Window and send them to the Interactive window.
- Variable Explorer provides a list of all variables at global scope and allows you to drill into the data.
- Plotting to see all of the R plots in a Visual Studio tool window.
- Debugging with breakpoints, stepping, watch windows, call stacks and more.
- R Markdown support with export to Word and HTML.
- Git, you can use several source code control systems with RTVS and Git and GitHub are some of them but, for now, you’ll need to install a plug-in that provides this support.
- Extensions through a large library with over 6,000 Extensions as part of the Visual Studio community.
- Multi language support of R, Python, C++, C#, Node.js and others simultaneously.
RTVS’s product manager John Lam presents the following tour around the features:
This preview release is just the beginning. Microsoft has plenty of plans to extend RTVS further. For more information check out the official blog post by Shahrokh Mortavazi: Microsoft Machine Learning Blog.
If you’ve never tried it and after reading this post I managed to motivate you, start by downloading Visual Studio for free.