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A 21 century R console
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radian: A 21 century R console

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radian is an alternative console for the R program with multiline editing and rich syntax highlight. One would consider radian as a ipython clone for R, though its design is more aligned to julia.


  • cross platform, runs on Windows, macOS and Linux
  • shell mode: hit ; to enter and <backspace> to leave
  • reticulate python repl mode: hit ~ to enter
  • improved R prompt and reticulate python prompt
    • multiline editing
    • syntax highlight
    • auto completion (reticulate autocompletion depends on jedi)
  • unicode support
  • auto matching parens/quotes.
  • brackated paste mode
  • emacs/vi editing mode
  • automiatically adjust to terminal width
  • read more than 4096 bytes per line



  • An installation of R (version 3.4.0 or above) is required to use radian, an R installation binary for your system can be downloaded from
  • python is also required to install radian. If your system doesn't come with a python distribution, it can be downloaded from Both version 2 and version 3 should work, though python 3 is recommended.
  • pip is optional but it makes the installation a bit easier.
# install released version
pip install -U radian
# to run radian
# or the development version
pip install -U git+

Alias on unix system

You could alias r to radian by putting

alias r="radian"

in ~/.bash_profile such that r would open radian and R would still open the traditional R console. (R is still useful, e.g, running R CMD BUILD.)


radian can be customized by specifying the following options in .radian_profile at your user home directory. If a local .radian_profile is present at the working directory, that file is used instead. The options could be also specified in .Rprofile file, however, it is less recommended because 1. the settings are not persistent when vanilla mode is used; 2. it is conflicted with the use of packret.

Do not copy the whole configuration, just specify what you need!

# see
# for a list of supported color schemes, default scheme is "native"
options(radian.color_scheme = "native")

# either  `"emacs"` (default) or `"vi"`.
options(radian.editing_mode = "emacs")

# indent continuation lines
# turn this off if you want to copy code without the extra indentation;
# but it leads to less elegent layout
options(radian.indent_lines = TRUE)

# auto match brackets and quotes
options(radian.auto_match = FALSE)

# auto indentation for new line and curly braces
options(radian.auto_indentation = TRUE)
options(radian.tab_size = 4)

# pop up completion while typing
options(radian.complete_while_typing = TRUE)
# timeout in seconds to cancel completion if it takes too long
# set it to 0 to disable it
options(radian.completion_timeout = 0.05)

# automatically adjust R buffer size based on terminal width
options(radian.auto_width = TRUE)

# insert new line between prompts, turning it off may hide buffered lines
options(radian.insert_new_line = TRUE)

# when using history search (ctrl-r/ctrl-s in emacs mode), do not show duplicate results
options(radian.history_search_no_duplicates = FALSE)

# custom prompt for different modes
options(radian.prompt = "\033[0;34mr$>\033[0m ")
options(radian.shell_prompt = "\033[0;31m#!>\033[0m ")
options(radian.browse_prompt = "\033[0;33mBrowse[{}]>\033[0m ")

# show vi mode state when radian.editing_mode is `vi`
options(radian.show_vi_mode_prompt = TRUE)
options(radian.vi_mode_prompt = "\033[34m[{}]\033[0m ")

# stderr color format
options(radian.stderr_format = "\033[0;31m{}\033[0m")

# suppress the loading message for reticulate
options(radian.suppress_reticulate_message = FALSE)
# enable reticulate prompt and trigger `~`
options(radian.enable_reticulate_prompt = TRUE)

Custom key bindings

# allows user defined shortcuts, these keys should be escaped when send through the terminal.
# In the following example, `esc` + `-` sends `<-` and `esc` + `m` sends `%>%`.
# Note that in some terminals, you could mark `alt` as `escape` so you could use `alt` + `-` instead.
options(radian.escape_key_map = list(
    list(key = "-", value = " <- "),
    list(key = "m", value = " %>% ")


How to specify R_HOME location

If radian cannot locate the installation of R automatically. The best option is to expose the R binary to the system PATH variable.

In Linux/macOS, you could also export the environment variable R_HOME. For example,

$ export R_HOME=/usr/local/lib/R
$ radian

Please also make sure that R was installed with the R shared library or libR.dylib or libR.dll. On Linux, the flag --enable-R-shlib may be needed to install R from the source.

how to use local history file

radian maintains its own history file .radian_history and doesn't use the .Rhistory file. A local .radian_history is used if it is found in the launching directory. Otherwise, the global history file ~/.radian_history would be used. To override the default behavior, you could launch radian with the options: radian --local-history, radian --global-history or radian --no-history.

Does it slow down my R program?

radian only provides a frontend to the R program, the actual running eventloop is the same as that of the traditional R console. There is no performance sacrifice (or gain) while using this modern command line interface.

Nvim-R support


let R_app = "radian"
let R_cmd = "R"
let R_hl_term = 0
let R_args = []  " if you had set any
let R_bracketed_paste = 1

in your vim config.

reticulate Auto Completions

To enable reticulate prompt completions, make sure that jedi is installed.

pip install jedi

Readline Error undefined symbol: PC

It may occurr if python and R use different two versions of libreadline. You could try preloading a version of first, e.g.,

env LD_PRELOAD=/lib64/ radian

setTimeLimit not working

radian utilizes the function setTimeLimit to set timeout for long completion. Users may notice that setTimeLimit is not working under the global environment. A workaround is to put the code inside a block or a function,

    while(1) {}

Prompt not shown inside a docker container

It maybe caused by the invalid terminal size, try running stty size in your terminal to see if it returns a correct size. You could change the values of it from the environmental variables $COLUMNS and $LINES when you log-in the docker container.

docker exec -it <container> bash -c "stty cols $COLUMNS rows $LINES && bash"

Why called radian?

radian is powered by (π)thon.


radian wouldn't be possible without the creative work prompt_toolkit by Jonathan Slenders.

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