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

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radian (previously known as rtichoke) 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.


  • shell mode: hit ; to enter and <backspace> to leave
  • reticulate python repl mode: hit ~ to enter
  • lightweight, no compilation is required
  • cross platform, runs on Windows, macOS and Linux
  • 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 https://cran.r-project.org.
  • python is also required to install radian. If your system doesn't come with a python distribution, it can be downloaded from https://conda.io/miniconda.html. 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+https://github.com/randy3k/rchitect
pip install -U git+https://github.com/randy3k/lineedit
pip install -U git+https://github.com/randy3k/radian

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 tranditional R console. (R is still useful, e.g, running R CMD BUILD.)


radian can be customized via options in .Rprofile file. This file is usually located in your user home directory.

    # see https://help.farbox.com/pygments.html
    # for a list of supported color schemes, default scheme is "native"
    radian.color_scheme = "native",

    # either  `"emacs"` (default) or `"vi"`.
    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
    radian.indent_lines = TRUE,

    # auto match brackets and quotes
    radian.auto_match = FALSE,

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

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

    # automatically adjust R buffer size based on terminal width
    radian.auto_width = TRUE,

    # insert new line between prompts
    radian.insert_new_line = TRUE,

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

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

    # supress the loading message for reticulate
    radian.suppress_reticulate_message = FALSE,
    # enable reticulate prompt and trigger `~`
    radian.enable_reticulate_prompt = TRUE


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.

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

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

Note that it should be the path to R_HOME, not the path to the R binary. The folder should contain a file called COPYING. In some cases, you may need to futher specify LD_LIBRARY_PATH,

$ radian

If the shared library cannot be found, please make sure your R was installed with the shared library libR.so or libR.dylib or libR.dll. On Linux, the flag --enable-R-shlib may be needed when R is complied from the source.

Fail to load library

Some packages may not be loaded properly with radian but they work well with the bare R. The issue could be caused by several reasons, check #38 and #46. Open an issue if it still doesn't work.

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 errors

Make sure that jedi is installed for reticulate prompt completions.

pip install jedi

If you see the following error, you would need to install a patched version of reticulate

SystemError: initialization of _heapq did not return an extension module

Readline Error

libreadline.so.6: undefined symbol: PC

If you are using conda and encounter this error, it is likely because the readline from conda is bugged. Install it again via conda-forge.

conda install -c conda-forge readline=6.2
# or
conda upgrade -c conda-forge readline

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"


radian wouldn't be possible witout the creative work prompt_toolkit by Jonathan Slenders.