[Rd] issues with dev.new avoiding RStudio plot device on unix?

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Tue Sep 29 22:58:21 CEST 2015

On 29/09/2015 2:00 PM, Skye Bender-deMoll wrote:
> On 09/26/2015 03:22 AM, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> On 26/09/2015 1:42 AM, Skye Bender-deMoll wrote:
>>> Sorry, should have given more background.  x11 works fine on all my
>>> systems when called by x11().  I'm the maintainer of a package that uses
>>> the animation library, which has performance issues when used with the
>>> RStudio plot device.  But if you call plot.new() when using RStudio, you
>>> get an RStudio device, not the standard device for the platform because
>>> it overrides the device option.  So I've had to have the library do
>>> platform detection and platform-specific device calls, which R CMD check
>>> doesn't like.  I believe that noRStudioGD argument was avoided to give
>>> users a way around this, but it doesn't seem to be behaving correctly in
>>> the unix interactive case.
>> It seems like the best workaround here could come from RStudio.  They
>> could provide a way for a user to indicate that they sometimes don't
>> want to use the RStudio graphics device (e.g. an option setting), and
>> your package could set and restore this option around your dev.new() call.
> That would make sense, I've tried to propose they add it as a feature in 
> the rstudioapi.  However, since the noRstudioGD option now exists in R, 
> I'd think it should behave consistently across platforms?  Opening pdf 
> on one and interactive on another seems odd.

The problem is that the device chosen by dev.new() depends on the GUI.
You can see the code that does this in grDevices:::.onLoad.  So in fact
with noRstudioGD=TRUE, the decision is identical to what it is in R:
you only get X11 if your GUI is X11 or Tk, you get pdf otherwise.
It's pretty common to use R on a machine where X11 won't work, so this
makes sense.

Now "RStudio" is common enough nowadays as a GUI so perhaps it should be
added to the list in both places, but I'm not sure that would work when
RStudio is running on a server rather than on the local machine.  I
think the RStudio people would have to make sure this worked, and if
they're doing that, wouldn't it be easier for them to provide the option

Duncan Murdoch

>> The other seems to be for your package to temporarily set
>> R_DEFAULT_DEVICE if the user doesn't already have it set, and use
>> noRStudioGD=TRUE.  The disadvantage of this is that you need to do all
>> the platform-based decision making.
> Great idea, I'll employ this workaround for now. Thanks!
> best,
>   -skye
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