Nteract : An interactive computing environment

A slide deck from Netflix, mentions using Nteract as their programming notebook, and prompted a mini exploration.

This blog post by Safia Abdalla, (a maintainer/ developer of Nteract) introduces Nteract as an open source, desktop-based, interactive computing application that was designed to overcome a bunch of limitations in Jupyter Notebook’s design philosophy. One key difference (among many others) is the ability to execute code in a variety of languages within a single notebook, and it also appears that that the electron based desktop app should make it easier for beginners to start coding.

Along similar lines, this blog post is a nice primer to the evolution of Ipython, Jupyter Notebooks and Nteract, from the plain vanilla Python console, which was the starting point. Beyond the illuminating definition that the Jupyter notebook is an ‘establishment of well-defined protocols and formats’, and is not just a console or a programming notebook, the blog post provides a deeper insight into how these protocols are implemented and communicate with interpreters or Jupyter kernels.

This reddit discussion has a few interesting pros and cons regarding using nteract.

While I can see the value of computing notebooks like Jupyter and Nteract, I do think that these do not come close to the functionality and ease that can be achieved with Org mode and Emacs, which have been in existence a lot longer. I was able to intuitively transition to using multiple language code ‘notebooks’ using Org mode. This reddit thread and blog post elucidate the advantages of using Babel and Org mode over Jupyter notebooks.

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