Let's talk about workflow.
Most R users that I know use RStudio.
Most programmers that I know use a text editor like Emacs, or use what is embedded into an IDE like PyCharm or IntelliJ. https://jstaf.github.io/2018/03/25/atom-ide.html
There are some things to like about RStudio (especially once you get the layout right), but it's a still a primarily point-and-click experience. I want to be able to do text editor things that should never need a mouse: open and close files, comment out lines, edit many lines of text at the same time. At the same time I want to be able to do IDE things without excessive (or any) pointing and clicking around: run bits of code, run entire scripts, view the contents of dataframes, find where functions are defined. All of this is possible in Atom using Hydrogen.
Let's run through a few examples of what this looks like in day-to-day use, and then I'll share the nitty gritty on getting Atom+Hydrogen set up (it's not quite as streamlined as just downloading RStudio).
Create a file and start the editor
First, we need a file. Start in the project directory.
Start Atom with
atom . or jump through the file creation with
atom scratch.R. If you just opened Atom with
atom . (which I usually do), just
^x ^f, type the path (let's just create
scratch.R) and start typing. So far, we've spent a few seconds at the keyboard to create the file and type out
x = 10.
We can start RStudio the same way,
RStudio ., and create the new file with
We can give it the filename by saving,
Command+s. If the file already existed, we'd need to click the Files pane, navigate to it, and click the filename.
Click on the file, and type in
x = 10.
Now let's go ahead and start running code.
To start the kernel first: Command+P, start typing "start" and hit enter to
Hydrogen: Start Local Kernel.
You'll have to hit enter again to select "R" and then boom, you
10 printed after.
You could also just Shift+Enter on the line
x=10 and Atom will go ahead and start the kernel for you (you'll still need to hit enter to confirm "R").
This is about the same, Shift+Enter and your code runs in "Console" pane.
Write more code
This where RStudio and Atom really get different.
In Atom, with
I can do all of the following things from the keyboard:
- Grab a block of code to indent, edit in multi-line mode, or comment it out.
- In Rstudio, you could select with the mouse and use the menu or a keyboard shortcut to comment lines, or auto-indent lines.
- Move the cursor forward by whole words, and/or select parts of code this way.
- Again, this is a point and click in R.
I guess this is really the biggest differentiator for me in Atom: the ability to manipulate raw text very quickly and easily, without any clicking around or selecting things. Making tasks that take 15 seconds only take 3 seconds (like executing a specific part of a line, or block of code) adds up!
Setting up Hydrogen
You still need base R, and then to install the IRKernel.
In one line:
Rscript -e 'install.packages("IRkernel", repos="http://cran.us.r-project.org"); IRkernel::installspec(name = "ir351", displayname = "R 3.5.1");'
Install the following Atom packages:
And in the Atom settings for Hydrogen,
under "language mapping",
You may not need to set this, I didn't need to, but just in case.
Enjoy whichever editor you're using :)