SQL support in R tools for Visual Studio

If you have any kind of interest in data science or machine learning, you’ll probably found out that R language is the ultimate survivor. If you are a developer familiar with Visual Studio, you don’t have to adopt for RStudio again. You can code R inside VS!

R Tools for Visual Studio (RTVS) recently released the 0.5 version. One useful feature comes with the new version is SQL integration. With that you can directly import the data loads in your SQL database to a R environment. SQL queries can help you to fetch the data that you want. You can easily play with the data using R then.

First, you have to have Visual Studio 2015 with update 3. (Visual Studio 2015 Comunity edition is freely available to download) Update your VS if you haven’t done it yet and download RTVS 0.5 from here & install it.

In your R project you can add SQL Query item (Right click on solution explorer and “Add new item”) which is created as a *.sql file.

On the top of the panel you can connect the database using “connect” icon. There you should configure the server name, server authentication and the database details.


Inside the .sql file you can execute the typical SQL queries to fetch data from the SQL database. One main advantage of this is, by enabling the execution plan you can analyze and optimize the SQL query you written.


Adding a database connection for the R project –

Go to R tools -> Data -> Add Database Connectionconnection-prop
Provide the authentication details of the database that you want to access. Then test the connection using “Test Connection” button. After clicking ‘ok’, you can see the database connection string is automatically generated inside settings.R file. Within the R code you can access for data inside the particular database as shown in the following example code.


The str() output is shown in the R console

The example shows the code used for accessing the data in ‘Iris Data’ table inside ‘DMDatasets’ database placed in the local SQL server. Make sure to install “RODBC” R package to use the database related functions inside R.

#Need RODBC package to extablish the ODBC database iterface

#Auto-generated Settings.R file should be added as a source
#The connection string contains in this file  
conn <- odbcDriverConnect(connection = dbConnection)

#To get the tables of particualr database
tbls <- sqlTables(conn, tableType = "TABLE")

#The SQL query is used to fetch data from the table 
sql <- "SELECT * FROM [dbo].[Iris Data]"
df <- sqlQuery(conn, sql)
#plotting the dataset

No need of switching developer environments to handle your coding as well as data analytics tasks. Just keep Visual Studio as your default IDE! 🙂


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