My favorite JupyterLab features

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Like a lot of Jupyter Notebook users, I’ve been switching over to JupyterLab over the last 8 months or so. While it is still a young project and some features will no doubt be improved (Find/Replace, anyone?), it has a lot going for it. Here, I just wanted to share a few of my favorite features.

Note: I am writing this with JupyterLab version 0.34.7

Terminal tabs

JupyterLab allows you to run your system’s shell (bash, PowerShell, etc.) directly in a new JupyterLab tab. This is not a particularly obscure feature, but one which I use constantly. Here some ways I’ve used it in just the last week.

Quick shell commands

I needed to check which version of a package I had installed in my conda environment. Easy: new terminal tab –> conda list

terminal tab demo

git and the file tree

When I am adding and committing files to a git repository, I find it helpful to be able to peek at the file tree, so I like that JupyterLab gives me both of those capabilities.

Markdown previews

When I am writing something like this blog post in markdown, JupyterLab lets me see a live version of it. It even updates as you type.

markdown preview

Extensions

JupyterLab was built with the explicit goal of encouraging the development of extensions. Already, there have been some quite nifty extensions produced.

Table of Contents extension

The Table of Contents extension adds an extra element to the left sidebar that will render a table of contents based on the markdown in your document. This is especially handy when you want to skip around to different pieces of code in a long Jupyter Notebook file (or anything else written with markdown).

TOC example

git extension

I haven’t actually used the git extension yet, but I am looking forward to trying it out. Here is a demo from the project’s GitHub repo.

git extension

I like the look of the interface and moving the files up and down through the statuses seems like an intuitive design.