Chat with AI in RStudio

Generenative Models Packages/Releases R

Interact with Github Copilot and OpenAI’s GPT (ChatGPT) models directly in RStudio. The chattr Shiny add-in makes it easy for you to interact with these and other Large Language Models (LLMs).

Edgar Ruiz (Posit)

chattr is a package that enables interaction with Large Language Models (LLMs), such as GitHub Copilot Chat, and OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 and 4. The main vehicle is a Shiny app that runs inside the RStudio IDE. Here is an example of what it looks like running inside the Viewer pane:

Screenshot of the chattr Shiny app, which displays an example of a single interaction with the OpenAI GPT model. I asked for an example of a simple example of a ggplot2, and it returned an example using geom_point()

Figure 1: chattr’s Shiny app

Even though this article highlights chattr’s integration with the RStudio IDE, it is worth mentioning that it works outside RStudio, for example the terminal.

Getting started

To get started, install the package from CRAN, and then call the Shiny app using the chattr_app() function:

# Install from CRAN

# Run the app

#> ── chattr - Available models 
#> Select the number of the model you would like to use:
#> 1: GitHub - Copilot Chat -  (copilot) 
#> 2: OpenAI - Chat Completions - gpt-3.5-turbo (gpt35) 
#> 3: OpenAI - Chat Completions - gpt-4 (gpt4) 
#> 4: LlamaGPT - ~/ggml-gpt4all-j-v1.3-groovy.bin (llamagpt) 
#> Selection:

After you select the model you wish to interact with, the app will open. The following screenshot provides an overview of the different buttons and keyboard shortcuts you can use with the app:

Screenshot of the chattr Shiny app top portion. The image has several arrows highlighting the different buttons, such as Settings, Copy to Clipboard, and Copy to new script

Figure 2: chattr’s UI

You can start writing your requests in the main text box at the top left of the app. Then submit your question by either clicking on the ‘Submit’ button, or by pressing Shift+Enter.

chattr parses the output of the LLM, and displays the code inside chunks. It also places three buttons at the top of each chunk. One to copy the code to the clipboard, the other to copy it directly to your active script in RStudio, and one to copy the code to a new script. To close the app, press the ‘Escape’ key.

Pressing the ‘Settings’ button will open the defaults that the chat session is using. These can be changed as you see fit. The ‘Prompt’ text box is the additional text being sent to the LLM as part of your question.

Screenshot of the chattr Shiny app Settings page. It shows the Prompt, Max Data Frames, Max Data Files text boxes, and the 'Include chat history' check box

Figure 3: chattr’s UI - Settings page

Personalized setup

chattr will try and identify which models you have setup, and will include only those in the selection menu. For Copilot and OpenAI, chattr confirms that there is an available authentication token in order to display them in the menu. For example, if you have only have OpenAI setup, then the prompt will look something like this:

#> ── chattr - Available models 
#> Select the number of the model you would like to use:
#> 2: OpenAI - Chat Completions - gpt-3.5-turbo (gpt35) 
#> 3: OpenAI - Chat Completions - gpt-4 (gpt4) 
#> Selection:

If you wish to avoid the menu, use the chattr_use() function. Here is an example of setting GPT 4 as the default:


You can also select a model by setting the CHATTR_USE environment variable.

Advanced customization

It is possible to customize many aspects of your interaction with the LLM. To do this, use the chattr_defaults() function. This function displays and sets the additional prompt sent to the LLM, the model to be used, determines if the history of the chat is to be sent to the LLM, and model specific arguments.

For example, you may wish to change the maximum number of tokens used per response, for OpenAI you can use this:

# Default for max_tokens is 1,000
chattr_defaults(model_arguments = list("max_tokens" = 100))
#> ── chattr ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
#> ── Defaults for: Default ──
#> ── Prompt:
#> • {{readLines(system.file('prompt/base.txt', package = 'chattr'))}}
#> ── Model
#> • Provider: OpenAI - Chat Completions
#> • Path/URL:
#> • Model: gpt-4
#> • Label: GPT 4 (OpenAI)
#> ── Model Arguments:
#> • max_tokens: 100
#> • temperature: 0.01
#> • stream: TRUE
#> ── Context:
#> Max Data Files: 0
#> Max Data Frames: 0
#> ✔ Chat History
#> ✖ Document contents

If you wish to persist your changes to the defaults, use the chattr_defaults_save() function. This will create a yaml file, named ‘chattr.yml’ by default. If found, chattr will use this file to load all of the defaults, including the selected model.

A more extensive description of this feature is available in the chattr website under Modify prompt enhancements

Beyond the app

In addition to the Shiny app, chattr offers a couple of other ways to interact with the LLM:

> chattr("how do I remove the legend from a ggplot?")
#> You can remove the legend from a ggplot by adding 
#> `theme(legend.position = "none")` to your ggplot code. 

A more detailed article is available in chattr website here.

RStudio Add-ins

chattr comes with two RStudio add-ins:

Screenshot of the chattr addins in RStudio

Figure 4: chattr add-ins

You can bind these add-in calls to keyboard shortcuts, making it easy to open the app without having to write the command every time. To learn how to do that, see the Keyboard Shortcut section in the chattr official website.

Works with local LLMs

Open-source, trained models, that are able to run in your laptop are widely available today. Instead of integrating with each model individually, chattr works with LlamaGPTJ-chat. This is a lightweight application that communicates with a variety of local models. At this time, LlamaGPTJ-chat integrates with the following families of models:

LlamaGPTJ-chat works right off the terminal. chattr integrates with the application by starting an ‘hidden’ terminal session. There it initializes the selected model, and makes it available to start chatting with it.

To get started, you need to install LlamaGPTJ-chat, and download a compatible model. More detailed instructions are found here.

chattr looks for the location of the LlamaGPTJ-chat, and the installed model in a specific folder location in your machine. If your installation paths do not match the locations expected by chattr, then the LlamaGPT will not show up in the menu. But that is OK, you can still access it with chattr_use():

  path = "[path to compiled program]",
  model = "[path to model]"
#> ── chattr
#> • Provider: LlamaGPT
#> • Path/URL: [path to compiled program]
#> • Model: [path to model]
#> • Label: GPT4ALL 1.3 (LlamaGPT)

Extending chattr

chattr aims to make it easy for new LLM APIs to be added. chattr has two components, the user-interface (Shiny app and chattr() function), and the included back-ends (GPT, Copilot, LLamaGPT). New back-ends do not need to be added directly in chattr. If you are a package developer and would like to take advantage of the chattr UI, all you need to do is define ch_submit() method in your package.

The two output requirements for ch_submit() are:

Here is a simple toy example that shows how to create a custom method for chattr:

ch_submit.ch_my_llm <- function(defaults,
                                prompt = NULL,
                                stream = NULL,
                                prompt_build = TRUE,
                                preview = FALSE,
                                ...) {
  # Use `prompt_build` to prepend the prompt
  if(prompt_build) prompt <- paste0("Use the tidyverse\n", prompt)
  # If `preview` is true, return the resulting prompt back
  if(preview) return(prompt)
  llm_response <- paste0("You said this: \n", prompt)
  if(stream) {
    cat(">> Streaming:\n")
    for(i in seq_len(nchar(llm_response))) {
      # If `stream` is true, make sure to `cat()` the current output
      cat(substr(llm_response, i, i))
  # Make sure to return the entire output from the LLM at the end

chattr_defaults("console", provider = "my llm")
#> >> Streaming:
#> You said this: 
#> Use the tidyverse
#> hello
chattr("I can use it right from RStudio", prompt_build = FALSE)
#> >> Streaming:
#> You said this: 
#> I can use it right from RStudio

For more detail, please visit the function’s reference page, link here.

Feedback welcome

After trying it out, feel free to submit your thoughts or issues in the chattr’s GitHub repository.


Text and figures are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 4.0. The figures that have been reused from other sources don't fall under this license and can be recognized by a note in their caption: "Figure from ...".


For attribution, please cite this work as

Ruiz (2024, April 4). Posit AI Blog: Chat with AI in RStudio. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Ruiz, Edgar},
  title = {Posit AI Blog: Chat with AI in RStudio},
  url = {},
  year = {2024}