R is tremendously flexible. It’s flexible in how commands can be written, and it’s flexible in the user interface that can be used to run it. I’ve been playing around with different user interfaces on Windows for a while now.
When I was first getting oriented, I used the basic user interface that comes with the R installation. I then set up ESS with XEmacs. However, as someone who is used to Windows short cut keys, it was a little confusing trying to use all the Emacs short cut keys. I’ve also had a play around with Tinn-R, R-Commander, and a few others.
For now, I’ve settled on Eclipse and the StatET plug-in. Eclipse is an attractive and user friendly coding environment that runs on Java. The StatET plug-in makes it easy to run R code in Eclipse.
Features that I like:
- Colour coding of code
- Code folding
- Windows-friendly short cut keys
- Good interface with the R console: The R console seems to crash less frequently than with ESS and XEmacs
- Project Explorer: This makes it easy to manage an R project with multiple files and folders (data, functions, coding files, etc). It also facilitates taking code from one project and incorporating it into another.
- The way that the various Windows are interconnected: editor, console, queue, history, project explorer, etc.
- Scope to expand: If I wanted to start programming in Java, or C, or some other programming language, I could stick with Eclipse.