I have used R for about six years now. Over the years I’ve done the majority of my coding in Linux and so R has been nothing more than a terminal. I enjoy the simplicity and purity of the terminal but have recently given R Studio and Revolution R a try.
R Studio is a free and open source IDE that can run on Windows, Linux, Mac, or on a server for web browser access. I have tried the Linux, Windows, and web server versions thus far. Revolution R is a commercial endeavor that provides some additional functionality and support to R. I have only tried Revolution R in Windows. Here are my first impressions:
R Studio is polished aesthetically and intuitive. I really love the integrated plot with the easy options for exporting plots. The integrated file manager is also quite useful. The ability to use R Studio in multiple computing environments is also a huge advantage. Overall I am very pleased with my experience using R Studio. It is an upgrade from the default R GUI and isn’t bloated with unnecessary features.
Revolution R has a familiar feeling GUI since it is done in Visual Studio. After experiencing the integrated plot in R Studio, I find the pop-up window plot a bit cumbersome, particularly when I don’t have two computer screens. I find it frustrating that for some reason Revolution R lacks a button for killing commands. Lastly, Revolution R does not allow you to complete commands by hitting TAB (something you become quite accustomed to in the Linux terminal). Since originally posting this I have learned that control + space bar can complete commands, but why deviate from TAB? On the positive side, Revolution R has some proprietary features for dealing with large data that R Studio lacks.
The Winner: R Studio If you need Revolution R for some of its proprietary features your choice has already been made. If you have the choice between the two, I recommend R Studio, you will likely find it annoys you less.