Maker of RStudio launches new R and Python IDE (2024)

Posit, formerly RStudio, has released a beta of Positron, a ‘next generation’ data science development environment based on Visual Studio Code.

By Sharon Machlis

Executive Editor, Data & Analytics, InfoWorld |

The company best known for RStudio, the leading integrated development environment (IDE) for R programmers, has quietly launched a “next-generation” IDE designed specifically for both R and Python. The Positron IDE is available in public beta as of today for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Created by Boston-based Posit PBC, formerly RStudio, Positron is based on Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code. Users of VS Code will likely find Positron’s look and feel rather familiar, with panels for writing code and viewing code output, consoles and terminals, and an activity bar at the far left offering options for file navigation, version control, debugging, and extensions. However, Positron is packaged out of the box to be easier to set up, especially for R users but also for Python.

There’s no need to install extensions in order to get R up and running in Positron, as is the case with VS Code. Likewise you don’t have to install an extension for Positron to run Python. In fact, you’re cautioned not to install the usual VS Code extensions for R and Python in Positron, since the IDE already comes with that functionality built-in. For both languages, you should have the basic language files installed on your system, as well as the IPykernel package to run Python. Positron easily found both my R and Python installations at first launch.

Maker of RStudio launches new R and Python IDE (3) IDG

You can install other VS Code extensions in Positron if you want them, though. Because Microsoft does not allow third-party IDEs to access the official VS Code Marketplace, Positron extensions are installed via the OpenVSX registry. “Posit is a major sponsor of OpenVSX,” Posit noted in its Positron wiki. Not all VS Code extension authors also submit and regularly update their projects to OpenVSX, however.

Posit calls the project “a next-generation data science IDE” and “an extensible polyglot tool for writing code and exploring data.” It has a built-in, easy-to-use data and variable explorer, which includes options like sorting and filtering data frames. It can be accessed by clicking an icon, for both R and Python data.

“The Data Explorer is intended to complement code-first exploration of data, allowing you to display data in a spreadsheet-like grid, temporarily filter and sort data, and provide useful summary statistics directly inside of Positron,” according to the project wiki. “The goal of the Data Explorer is not to replace code-based workflows, but rather supplement with ephemeral views of the data or summary statistics as you further explore or modify the data via code.”

There are other welcome little tweaks in Positron, such as cmd/ctrl + enter running one line of a Python script and then moving your cursor to the next line of code. This can be surprisingly helpful for quick code examination outside of the debug tool. If you are working on a project that combines both R and Python scripts, which I increasingly do as an R user working with generative AI, the IDE also easily pops up the correct console when you switch between scripts in both languages.

The repo cautions that Positron is “an early stage project under active development.” Users should keep that in mind when weighing how and when to try it out.

Next read this:

  • Why companies are leaving the cloud
  • 5 easy ways to run an LLM locally
  • Coding with AI: Tips and best practices from developers
  • Meet Zig: The modern alternative to C
  • What is generative AI? Artificial intelligence that creates
  • The best open source software of 2023


  • Integrated Development Environments
  • Development Tools
  • Python
  • R Language
  • Data Science
  • Analytics
  • Software Development

Sharon Machlis is Director of Editorial Data & Analytics at Foundry, where she works on data analysis and in-house editor tools in addition to writing. Her book Practical R for Mass Communication and Journalism was published by CRC Press. She was named Digital Analytics Association's 2021 Top (Data) Practitioner, winner of the 2023 Jesse H. Neal journalism award for best instructional content, 2014 Azbee national gold award for investigative reporting, and 2017 Azbee gold for how-to article, among other awards. You can find her on Mastodon at


Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.

Maker of RStudio launches new R and Python IDE (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated:

Views: 6256

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.