Focus Mode (Intern Project)

Hi all! Along with my teammates Markelle and Marisa, I am working on a “Focus mode” project (sometimes referred to as “Zen mode”).

Our goal is to minimize the perception of clutter in JupyterLab by offering an easy-to-learn, document-focused alternative interface. Similar to Yuvi’s Simplest Notebook, this layout could be toggled from JupyterLab itself.

To drive design decisions, we want to hear about your existing workflows within JupyterLab or any feedback you would like to share.


Hi, I’m Markelle, one of the other Cal Poly interns! Looking forward to hearing back from everyone :blush:

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I’m Marisa, another intern on this project! Thanks all. :grinning:

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This sounds like an excellent idea, and something that we could definitely use in teaching here at Berkeley!


Are you focussing on simple in the UI view, or simple elsewhere…

eg this repo branch (which works in MyBinder) sets up a Jupyter environment using Jupytext that lets you author markdown files (.md) and run them, via Jupytext, as a notebook, but the save format is just .md (no ipynb). To create a new notebook-from-md, create an .md file and then click on in the link to it in the Jupyter notebook home page to view / edit / run it as a notebook.

Thanks for sharing feedback all. Our goal of the project is to uncover barriers that can make JupyterLab difficult to use. We hope to use these insights to learn more about how people use JupyterLab. Here are some questions that we have:

Have you used Classic Notebook? How does it compare to JupyterLab?
What type of work are you doing when using JupyterLab(education, industry, etc)?
Are there other software tools that are important for you to complete your work?

I think @Eric_Van_Dusen @yuvipanda and @willingc could be interested in these questions from their experiences in education w notebooks

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Hi - Yes - we use classic notebook for teaching a lot. The idea in some ways is specifically to not give a first-time user a view that looks like and IDE but a view that looks like a written page - so that the familiarity and lack of options will focus them on some simple learning outcomes. In some ways our view is about giving novice users exposure to datascience in the least intimidating way - not even mentioning much background just dropping them into a notebook and have them clicking and learning one command at a time.


To all who have given feedback, thanks so much :slightly_smiling_face: . I have been toying with the idea of Progressive Disclosure as a good lens to solve this type of problem. I am also looking into features that are currently underserved.

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One thing to think of for inspiration might be the Adobe suite of tools. I like how they have different layouts you can customize and then make then one click away, as well as a set of out-of-the-box layouts for new users -> more advanced users.

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Thanks for all your feedback y’all. We have taken the direction of making this a “Single Document Mode”. Would love to hear some thoughts.

Also, this project has begun a conversation of what it looks like to install packages with a UI. Here is a gif of what it looks like. We are working at getting a binder link working.


oh wow! I think it looks great! Really nice job

Do you have a demo somewhere for people to try? Maybe a Binder?

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We’ll get that to you soon! Thanks for waiting.