The R Statistical Programing Environment

Using R under windows

There are a variety of different packages to do statistical analyses on, namely SAS, S-Plus, SPSS, Minitab, Statistica, etc. R is one of the best statistical programming packages today. One advantage that R has on all of them is that it is open source and released under the GNU GPL license, which means that it is free and will always be free. R is an open source implementation of the S language that is used in the S-plus statistical package. It was programmed for the Linux and Unix platforms, which is what I use (Linux). However, since the GNU tools have been ported to windows as well, then R is also available for windows. I wrote these instuctions at the request of several friends who wanted to know how to integrate Emacs and R together.

There are a variety of ways to interface with R. The quickest way is through a terminal window on Linux. However, it's not very productive and useful. The best ways to interface with R are as follows in descending order.

  1. RStudio
    This is currently the best way to edit R code and analyze data using R. It is what I suggest to all my students right now. The others still have their value, so I won't remove them. Rstudio is better because of the Server edition, which allows the use of R through the browser. It contains a code editor, debugging tools, and visualizing tools. You can also organize your work into projects, which helps when you are working on multiple projects. There are two versions of Rstudio, Rstudio Desktop, useful for running R on one computer, and RStudio Server, which allows access to R through any browser. It is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  2. The ESS (Emacs Speaks Statistics) package for Emacs
    Integrating Emacs with R is a very useful interface with R on a Unix/Linux box. Both R and Emacs are originally written for Unix/Linux, but is also possible on Windows as well.
  3. The Rcmdr package
    R can also be controlled by using Rcmdr, a GUI interface for many of the capabilities of R. If you have no desire to use Emacs with R, then Rcmdr is a viable alternative. Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  4. Notepadd++ with NppToR
    Notepadd++ is an all purpose replacement of Notepad with lots of features, including syntax highlighting and folding. NppToR is an add on package to Notepadd++ that adds syntax highlighting for the R Language, as well as code passing between Notepadd++ and R. Notepad++ is a windows only program.
  5. Tinn-R.
    Tinn-R is a program that is used for editing R code under Windows. It could be described as an integrated development environment for R under windows. Tinn is an acronym standing for Tinn is not Notepad. It is intended as an enhanced replacement for Notepad. Tinn-R is a modified version of Tinn that is designed to make the eding and execution of R code simple and easy. Tinn-R is not a solution for Mac, Linux, or Unix, as it is a windows only program. This is it's biggest strike against it.

This web page describes how to install R, Rcmdr, Emacs, Notepad++ and Tinn-R on a Windows system, as well as directions on integrating Emacs and R using ESS.

The navigation menu on the left will take you to each installation directions. Note that you don't have to install Emacs, Rcmdr, Notepad++, or Tinn-R to use R, but the experience is so much better with them.

I have updated the installation of Emacs to use a CVS version of GNU Emacs for windows. This new version will allow the latest features of ESS (Emacs Speaks Statistics) to be used (most notably the toolbar). If you still prefer the official release, then here are directions for on installing it.

S. Hyde
Last modified: Tue Sep 8 17:47:57 HST 2020