Installing R packages in SQL Server using only T-SQL

Installing R packages in SSMS using T-SQL can take some time, especially when you need to switch between R Tools for Visual Studio or R Studio or your favorite R GUI tool (or R CMD). But so far, installing any additional library using sp_execute_external_script is just not working.

--InstallPackage using sp_execute_external_script
EXECUTE sp_execute_external_script    
       @language = N'R'    

-- using Download.file command
EXECUTE sp_execute_external_script    
       @language = N'R'    
                 install.packages("ggplot2", repos = NULL, type = "source")'

Both executions yield in error messages. Especially the first one would be great way of installation. At this point, I would not find a way of just passing this command to install the package.

Julie Koesmarno made a great post on installing R packages. Please follow this post. Also Microsoft suggests the following way to install R packages on MSDN.

Since I wanted to be able to have packages installed directly from SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) here is yet another way to do it. I have used  xp_cmdshell to install any additional package for my R (optionally you can set EXECUTE AS USER).

USE WideWorldImporters;
-- enable xp_cmdshell
EXECUTE SP_CONFIGURE 'xp_cmdshell','1';


EXEC xp_cmdshell '"C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\
R_SERVICES\bin\R.EXE" cmd -e install.packages(''tree'')';   GO

in this case I have installed package tree by calling Microsoft R Services with -e switch and adding straight R code. Please double check path to your R Engine.

Results are:


It might not be the proposed way, but when completing T-SQL and R code it is just a nice way with little annoyances.  I would still suggest the way Microsoft proposed or Julie described on her blog, but if you feel confident, you can use this method.

Code is available at Github.

Happy R-SQLing!

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5 comments on “Installing R packages in SQL Server using only T-SQL
  1. […] article was first published on R – TomazTsql, and kindly contributed to […]


  2. I have to say that I prefer installing missing packages the way you describe here. But it’s not just installing missing packages, using this method you can provide more complex “deployment scripts” to a dba, who then will deploy these scripts on test and production environments. INMO – This is much more reallife than using the VSTR way or the way described


  3. […] Tomaz Kastrun shows how to install packages in SQL Server R Services: […]


  4. […] year, in one of my previous blog posts, I have been showing how to install R package from SSMS using […]


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