Minimal layout for newbies

Dear UX experts,
my question is in the direction of the “focus mode” or “zen mode” that was discussed a few days ago, although we don’t want to go that far. We often hear that students are a bit intimidated by the amount of menus and sidebars that jupyterlab shows by default.

We’d like to reduce the default jupyterlab layout to show only File, Edit and Help menus together with the File Browser sidebar and of course the notebook (document) area. In our experience, this is all the functionality that students need to get started with jupyterlab. Once they are familiar with these essentials, the standard layout with all menus and sidebars could be toggled from some additional menu item.

Is it possible to configure jupyterlab to provide such a reduced layout by default? Be it some configuration file or by writing an extension. If you guide me to the required steps, I’ll try my best to write the implementation.

Thank you

Hi Ernst, thanks for opening this thread. We have heard feedback similar to this and are working to dive deeper into the underlying issues, so we can design ways to address the issue. Do you have more specific information you can share, such as written feedback from the end users, more details about the users and the context (what types of users are these? what were they using lab for?).



@ernstch you may also want to check out Focus Mode (Intern Project) which describes a similar set of needs and potentially a similar solution

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Thanks for the reply, ellisonbg. This request came up during the evaluation of a first test phase introducing JupyterLab for the computer science and math classes at our high school (planned for age ~15+ years). A colleague and I are in charge of improving the JupyterLab setup through integrated tutorials and simplified layout for the very beginners.

@choldgraf Yes, I was aware of the “focus mode” discussion. But where in the discussion do you see a potential solution?

We were hoping that we could benefit from the design that “Everything in Jupyterlab is an extension”. We’d like to disable the extensions that show the command palette, the Open Tabs, the Running Terminals and Kernels sidebars and the View, Run, Kernel, Tabs, Settings menus. However, it appears like almost all extensions are required.

We appreciate you sharing your feedback @ernstch. @markellekelly, @marisaaquilina, and I are working towards a set of related goal you mentioned. This feedback is important to our team as we want to hear about the needs of real users.

We are hoping to address the needs of a wide range of users who are coming to JupyterLab but are running into problems for various reasons. I am not sure that removing the side panel or writing tutorials will fix all the problems that new users are running into, but am interested in what you’re working on.

I am a recent grad from a program in Product Design, so believe me that we are trying hard to address the needs mentioned. If any of y’all have any more feedback, please share. We are listening. We would love to keep this dialogue going.

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Another point that has come up in recent conversations: converting the JupyterLab command palette to being a modal overlay (more similar to VSCode) would provide a simple way to provide more full featured functionality in the minimal layout, without needing the L side panel. We would like to make this transition even in the main JupyterLab layout, so this would be a win all around.

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I’m glad that you mentioned this as this has been something similar to what the interns have to talking about. We would be interested in what y’all had in mind.