What is Quarto? RStudio rolls out next-generation R Markdown

ByJosephine J. Romero

Jul 29, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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R Markdown has been one particular of the much more persuasive features of the R ecosystem, creating it easy to incorporate outcomes of R code into a text. Furthermore, R Markdown files can be exported to a wide variety of formats—Word, HTML, PDF, PowerPoint, and additional. You can even export full books and websites.

But R Markdown has been about for 10 several years. And as extra abilities were added via exterior R offers, syntax for essential jobs became inconsistent relying on, for example, no matter whether output was a stand-by yourself HTML document, HTML slide presentation, or a thing else. As well as, whilst you could operate extra languages aside from R within an R Markdown code chunk, it even now was basically developed for R.

Individuals are two of the causes RStudio has developed Quarto, a upcoming-technology, R Markdown-like publishing process. Quarto is open up supply, and it is as welcoming to Python, Julia, Observable JavaScript, and Jupyter notebooks as it is to R. It is not a language-unique library, but an external software application.

Following a tender launch of numerous months, Quarto was a significant theme of this year’s RStudio Meeting in late July. 

Why bother with Quarto?

If you use extra than a person language, or you are on a multi-language crew, you will very likely locate Quarto’s indigenous help for various languages appealing. The “high interior consistency” is a further attraction, as the similar syntax will do the job throughout much more languages and formats. 

“Quarto permits collaborating across coding languages,” Julia Stewart Lowndes, founder and co-director at Openscapes, mentioned all through an RStudio Meeting keynote. Openscapes labored with NASA as early Quarto beta testers and identified that Quarto manufactured it a great deal a lot easier for Python and R people to perform with each other, she claimed.

But just one of the most intriguing advantages is down the road. RStudio founder and CEO J.J. Allaire envisions cloud-based mostly collaboration for Quarto files that will perform the similar way Google Docs editing does now—seamlessly and with no people needing to explicitly use an exterior edition regulate device like Git. Having said that, Allaire pressured that this performance is not imminent. 

For now, although, Quarto was created to operate similarly well in Visual Studio Code and Jupyter as it does in RStudio, which the corporation hopes will make adoption among the groups with non-R users far more most likely. In simple fact, those performing largely text get the job done with minimal code could use a plain text editor for Quarto documents rendered HTML paperwork can be previewed in a browser.

Allaire thinks that a person of the most significant Quarto positive aspects is aid in producing YAML, the language utilised for each R Markdown and Quarto document header facts. YAML can be annoyingly finicky as to where by to area colons, commas, and indentations. It is almost like its have programming language, but with out the advantages of an IDE and error-checking. The Quarto editor has crafted-in YAML assistance. It also aims to highlight problems before you check out rendering your document and discovering out that it will not work.

And considering the fact that Quarto is open up source, many others can lead to its performance by composing extensions. There are quite a few Quarto extensions previously offered from the Quarto improvement workforce.

One more possible gain, depending on your desires: You can export Quarto documents in additional than 40 distinctive file formats like Word, OpenOffice, PowerPoint, ePub, Jira Wiki, Jupyter, Observable JS, full internet sites, and ebooks. R Markdown can deliver some of people, but not all.

There are also some helpful conversion features, this kind of as changing involving .ipynb Jupyter notebooks and .qmd Quarto files that can be study by any text editor.

Ultimately, while R Markdown will be preserved and updated, “[RStudio] will probably not attempt to backport Quarto characteristics into R Markdown (until it is pretty easy and requires minimal work),” RStudio engineer Yihui Xie wrote in a site publish. In other text, great new capabilities are considerably additional likely to appear in Quarto.

Nevertheless, Quarto does not suggest the conclusion of R Markdown. “Rest certain #rmarkdown is not heading absent: We’ll proceed to operate it! No require to switch #rstats if you never have to have to,” tweeted Christophe Dervieux, a program engineer at RStudio. In simple fact, most factors you know from R Markdown possibly can be utilised in Quarto. And, Quarto will render R Markdown paperwork.

How is Quarto diverse from R Markdown?

As opposed to R Markdown, which is an R bundle, Quarto is a separate, non-R software. So in purchase to use Quarto, you may 1st have to have to obtain and install it like you would any other application, in this case from the quarto.org “Get Started” site. Quarto is presently incorporated in RStudio IDE versions RStudio v2022.07.1 or later.

For Visual Studio Code, install each Quarto and the VS Code Quarto extension. Quarto also performs with Jupyter Lab and any text editor

If you have utilized R Markdown prior to, a Quarto document will appear common. There is a YAML header with a title, creator, and output format. Textual content employs a large amount of generic markdown, this kind of as pound symptoms for headers and bracket/parentheses syntax for hyperlinked textual content: [linked text](https://theurl.com). Each use 3 backticks to delineate the start and finish of code chunks. 

Document showing text and R code in RStudio Screenshot by Sharon Machlis

Sample Quarto document in RStudio.

One of the largest variations in between older R Markdown and Quarto is how you established up solutions for code chunks. In R Markdown, chunk-specific selections were usually set inside curly braces defining the chunk, this sort of as

```r chunk_identify, echo=Phony, warning=False
code here
```

This produces a block of R code named chunk_identify that will be executed, but the code by itself will not exhibit in the rendered document. And any warning messages the code could deliver will not look.

In Quarto, chunk selections go underneath the curly braces. Just about every selection goes on its individual line preceded by a pound signal and vertical character, these kinds of as

```
r
#| label: chunk_title
#| echo: untrue
#| warning: wrong
```

This “hash pipe” chunk-solution format now also will work with R Markdown paperwork.

For far more specifics on working with Quarto, see the Quarto web site or slides by Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel,  a professor at Duke University who also does get the job done at RStudio, from her RStudio Meeting keynote with Stewart Lowndes.

In addition, Quarto has its ow Twitter account. And there is the Quarto Tip a Working day blog site by Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel.

If you would like to test publishing a public Quarto HTML document, RStudio introduced a cost-free site  https://quartopub.com very similar to its older RPubs for R Markdown docs.

To discover additional about the R programming language, head to the Do More With R tutorials web page.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.



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