Here’s a little thing I was noodling with today. A drop in replacement for help() that pulls up the help file as an RMardkown document in your editor pane, not some weird special web browser window off to one side.

It’s reminiscent of the way help works in ESS/Emacs:


The advantages are:

  • You don’t take your hands off the keyboard to browse help
  • Search a help file using your standard editor shortcuts
  • Run examples in the console using standard mechanism (e.g. ctrl + enter)
  • Text and example code uses your editor fonts, themes, and plugins
  • Remix and edit examples in-situ (!)
  • Copy and paste using your keyboard only
  • You get to parse markdown with your eyes

On the downside:

  • At the moment you lose the links between help files. They’re not browsable (as in ESS).
  • You have to parse markdown with your eyes

It would be possible to bring it on par with ESS, but it would take a bit of work on the VSCode side, and then the VSCode-R extension would have 2 modes to view help in. Is this a good thing? I am not sure. I think this is probably good enough to fill the aching void in my setup.

With just little more work it could be used as a keyboard shortcut in RStudio as well.