When you log in to RStudio Server Pro, the screen will appear with your Source, Console, Environment/ History, and Miscellaneous. Since RStudio is heavily used for many different reasons, how each person uses RStudio will depend on the situation. For an assignment, you may be loading an RMarkdown file or creating a new document to work on, or you may simply need to use RStudio for calculations.
To learn more about the specific functions of the areas found on the RStudio main page, read the following sections below. For unique RStudio needs, please reference RStudio Support.
The Source tab will store all values, objects, and functions used during your RStudio session. This quadrant is where you write all of the R code that you want to save for later, including functions, commands, objects, values, and packages.
Simply put, the Console is where you type commands and visually see the outputs. More specifically, the Console will assist you in choosing the proper code, function, and commands you wish to use. This is known as code completion. If you wish to calculate a specific function but do not know the proper code (or don’t feel like typing all of it), you may enter part of the function into the Console and select Tab. As seen above, the Console will provide a list of possible functions that may be used in your calculation.
The code completion of the Console additionally assists in finding usable function arguments. If you entered factor( into the Console and then select Tab, you will see a list of potential arguments that you can use.
The Environment tab will provide a detailed list of every function or symbol that is defined in the Console. If you have a dataset that you want to load into the Console, you can import the data directly into the Environment. Directly importing datasets to the Environment will result in the same outcome as if you had manually typed the command into the console. The Environment cannot be directly typed into, so you will not affect your work in the Source or Console quadrants by exploring the Environment tab. As seen above, the Environment lists all values and data entered into the Console.
The History tab is similar to the Environment, but is slightly different. The History will provide a detailed list of every Console command that has been used since the project started. While the Environment will list all of the defined symbols and functions used in your RStudio session, History will list every Console command entered into the Console since your project began, even if the command is not able to be run. At the end of your project session your History will be deleted unless you manually save the Environment. As seen in the example above, the History lists every single one of the commands entered into the Console.
The Miscellaneous quadrant features five separate tabs to assist you in using RStudio.
The Files tab will store all of the files that are currently available to you as a user. If you are using RStudio for a course, this is where material that your class uses will be stored by your professor. From the Files tab you can import datasets, view files, and edit RStudio files as permissions allow.
The Plots tab is where all of the charts and plots you generate will appear. In this tab you may configure, zoom, and inspect your graphs. The Plots tab will contain all of your graphs that have been run in your current Console section. To toggle between graphs, select the arrows and go to the graphic you wish to see.
You additionally may export the graphics created in the Plots tab by selecting Export and deciding how you want your graphic saved.
The Packages tab allows you to install additional packages into your RStudio. Packages allow RStudio to perform specific functions. With your RStudio installation, many packages are included. When the box is checked, the package is loaded into RStudio. When the box is not checked, any command typed requiring that function will not work until you select the proper box. A brief description of what each package does is listed next to the packages’ name.
If you wish to use a package that did not come with the installation of RStudio, you may install additional packages.
- Select Install.
- Enter the name of the package and select Install.
- Your package will be installed.
Note that there is a difference between the User Library — R packages that you’ve installed yourself that reside in your home directory– and the System Library, which is a central repository of R packages that are kept updated by the system administrator. Only you can see packages that you’ve installed, since they’re installed to your home directory. However, you’ll also need to ensure that any packages are kept updated. You don’t need to do this with packages in the System Library, since they’re periodically updated as part of maintaining the server. Functionally you should use System Library packages unless a package you need isn’t available. If there’s an R package that not in the System Library that you think should be included, let the IT Helpdesk know.
The Help tab allows you to search the Help directly from your RStudio window. If you wish to search a direct term or concept from your Console, simply enter a question mark before the command name and the Help window will automatically open.
The Viewer tab in RStudio allows users to view local web content. For more information on how to use the Viewer tab, visit the RStudio Support site.