[R] Syntax coloring in R console

Joshua Wiley jwiley.psych at gmail.com
Fri Apr 1 17:02:12 CEST 2011

Dear January,

Have you looked at Emacs + ESS?  http://ess.r-project.org/

It highlights in the text editor and the actual R process besides
coming with a rich set of features and a mailing list filled with
helpful Emacs & R users.  I've tried several different interfaces and
ended up being happiest by far with Emacs + ESS.  I also seem to
recall Kate or Kedit at least highlighted .R files, but I am not in a
position to check right now.

Happy hunting,


On Fri, Apr 1, 2011 at 3:32 AM, January Weiner
<january.weiner at mpiib-berlin.mpg.de> wrote:
> Dear all,
> I am a happy user of R console, but I would like to see syntax
> coloring. I use R 2.12 in Ubuntu Linux.
> I have found the packages "xterm256" and "highlight", but I was not
> able to figure out how to use it to highlight the syntax in console
> output.
> Also, I tried several GUI interfaces, but I was not able to find
> something that suits me better than the default R console. R cmdr is
> definitely not for me, as I don't want to fundamentally change the way
> I am managing my data in R. Rkwrd seems to be nice (from screenshots),
> but its installation requires all the base KDE libraries, which I
> don't want to install.
> I tried JGR, the GUI for R, but I have found the following problems
> with this package:
> - I was not able to change the background color from a repulsive grey,
> - apparently, GNU readline is not implemented in that package, that
> is, there is no functionality similar to ctrl-r (which searches
> through the history for matching commands), something I use
> frequently, and
> - tab expansion is of limited use (e.g. doesn't browse files in the
> current directory when expanding quoted arguments e.g. in
> "read.table").
> All in all, I'd be happy to continue using the plain R console, but
> syntax highlighting would be nice. Any advice would be extremely
> welcome.
> Kind regards,
> January
>> sessionInfo()
> R version 2.12.2 (2011-02-25)
> Platform: i486-pc-linux-gnu (32-bit)
> locale:
>  [1] LC_CTYPE=en_US.utf8       LC_NUMERIC=C
> LC_TIME=en_US.utf8        LC_COLLATE=en_US.utf8     LC_MONETARY=C
>  [6] LC_MESSAGES=en_US.utf8    LC_PAPER=en_US.utf8       LC_NAME=C
>            LC_ADDRESS=C              LC_TELEPHONE=C
> attached base packages:
> [1] stats     graphics  grDevices utils     datasets  methods   base
> --
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Joshua Wiley
Ph.D. Student, Health Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

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