RKernel: Yet another R kernel for Jupyter

The package ‘RKernel’ allows you to run R in Jupyter notebooks etc. I have been working on the package on and off since summer 2021. I started because I was dissatisfied with the default rich output that the already existing IRkernel produces. Also, the help system seemed to be broken with version <= 1.3 of ‘IRkernel’ when used with a more recent version of R (>=4.3?).1

I am now using ‘RKernel’ in all of my own research that uses R and I have been adding all kinds of features that I missed or that I thought might be useful or cool (usually after work or on weekends).2 As a consequence, this new R kernel supports:

  • Updating plots using lines() etc. even across notebook cells
  • A wide range of widgets, based on ipywidgets.
  • Fully werking HTML help pages with working links etc.
  • Interactive debugging
  • Improved graphics within output created by example(...)

Currently, the package is available from GitHub I will add more information as I find the time for it.


Figure 5: A demonstration of interactive graphics using SVG widgets.


Figure 6: A demonstration of rich display


This seems to have been fixed with version 1.3.2, but the help pages are still not real HTML and do not support links. Furthermore help.start() does not really work. (It does with RKernel, though :)


Working on this package almost evolved into some kind of therapy for my frustration from various aspects of academic life.