Announcing R Tools 1.0 for Visual Studio 2015

This post is authored by Shahrokh Mortazavi, Partner Director of Program Management at Microsoft.

I’m delighted to announce the General Availability of R Tools 1.0 for Visual Studio 2015 (RTVS). This release will be shortly followed by R Tools 1.0 for Visual Studio 2017 in early May. RTVS is a free and open source plug-in that turns Visual Studio into a powerful and productive R development environment. Check out this video for a quick tour of its core features:

Core IDE Features

RTVS builds on Visual Studio, which means you get numerous features for free, from using multiple languages to word-class editing and debugging, to over 7,000 extensions for every conceivable need.

  • A polyglot IDE – VS supports R, Python, C++, C#, Node.js, SQL, etc. projects simultaneously.
  • Editor – complete editing experience for R scripts and functions, including detachable/tabbed windows, syntax highlighting, and much more.
  • IntelliSense – aka auto-completion, available in both the editor and the Interactive R window.
  • R Interactive Window – work with the R console directly from within Visual Studio.
  • History window – view, search, select previous commands and send to the Interactive window.
  • Variable Explorer – drill into your R data structures and examine their values.
  • Plotting – see all your R plots in a Visual Studio tool window.
  • Debugging – breakpoints, stepping, watch windows, call stacks and more.
  • R Markdown – R Markdown/knitr support with export to Word and HTML.
  • Git – source code control via Git and GitHub.
  • Extensions – over 7,000 extensions covering a wide spectrum from data to languages to productivity.
  • Help – use ? and ?? to view R documentation within Visual Studio.

It’s Enterprise Grade

RTVS includes various features that address the needs of individual as well as data science teams, for example:

SQL Server 2016

RTVS integrates with SQL Server 2016 R Services and SQL Server Tools for Visual Studio 2015. These separate downloads enhance RTVS with support for syntax coloring and Intellisense, interactive queries, and deployment of stored procedures directly from Visual Studio.

Microsoft R Client

Use the stock CRAN R interpreter, or the enhanced Microsoft R Client and its ScaleR functions that support multi-core and cluster computing for practicing data science at scale.

Visual Studio Team Services

Integrated support for git, continuous integration, agile tools, release management, testing, reporting, bug and work-item tracking through Visual Studio Team Services. Use our hosted service or host it yourself, privately.


Whether it’s data governance, security, or running large jobs on a powerful server, RTVS workspaces enable setting up your own R server or connecting to one in the cloud.

The Road Ahead

We’re very excited to officially bring another language to the Visual Studio family! Along with Python Tools for Visual Studio, you have the two main languages for tackling most any ML and analytics related challenge. Very soon (~May), we’ll release RTVS for VS2017 as well. We’ll also resurrect the “Data Science workload” in VS2017 which gives you R, Python, F# and all their respective package distros in one convenient install.

Beyond that, we’re looking forward to hearing from you on what features we should focus on next! R package development? Mixed R+C debugging? Model deployment? VS Code/R for cross-platform development? Please let us know on the github repo.