New R Language Plugin for Visual Studio 2015

Microsoft R and R Server features are accessible almost directly through the Visual Studio IDE, with the new R Tools for Visual Studio plugin.

Visual Studio 2015 now speaks R. No, not some pirate language but the language of statistics. The new R language capabilities are accessible via a new R Tools for Visual Studio plugin that's available in preview form for now.

R Tools for Visual Studio, or RTVS for short, comes with an editor as well as an R Interactive Window (aka REPL) that works directly from within the VS IDE. As well, R data structures can be drilled into directly for further examination via the Variable Explorer and R plots can be viewed from the Variable Explore or directly in a Visual Studio tools window, which can be resized and docked to the IDE. A History window provides a good number of features, including saving histories and replaying code.

RTVS also supports R Markdown, which can be exported to Word or HTML, and IntelliSense in both the Editor and REPL.

Shahrokh Mortazavi, Microsoft's Partner Director of Program Management in the Data Group, in a blog post notes that because "RTVS is an IDE ... as such you can use it with any recent version of R such as 3.2.x." Using it with Microsoft R Open allows it to take advantage of "some turbo options such as threading support on multi-processor machines," while using it with Microsoft R Server will allow it to support Big Data functionality as well "additional advanced features that can be used with SQL Server."

Of note for VS developers on Azure is that RTVS can be teamed up with the R SDK "to access your datasets and workspaces on Azure Ml," writes Mortazavi. "Use the environment to create and test models locally and easily operationalize them on Azure at scale."

Get the RTVS preview here.

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