Contributing To Jupyter Notebooks

Inspiration to contribute to open source projects can come from anywhere! And here’s a short example.

I’ve become interested in Python because it can be used for a multitude of applications. One such, is data analysis. It’s such an exciting time to use Python when open source libraries like pandas and seaborn exist. And I’ve found it’s becoming even more accessible these days by a project called Jupyter. The irony between this focus, and the want to contribute to open source projects — is these are all open sourced…

Lovely world we live in, I tell ya. And what better way to show an appreciation for something you use, than to fix something with it. And that’s where I’ve ended up.

Browsing the repo for jupyter notebook (this just so happens to be the command to start an instance of it)  was my first step in understanding how plausible it was to contribute to. I saw it was active, with over 1,000 current issues — albeit some are very repetitive.  As well, I can see that’s it is a fairly active project still, with a new update pushed only 8 days ago. With these two observations, I realized it might not be a complete waste of my time to try and fix something.

During the previous week an issue popped up which I could tackle. The front-end UI was misbehaving. I suppose it was annoying enough for a disgruntled user to come all the way to github to mention it. Jupyter notebooks does a really neat thing, whereby you can read all about those pandas, or seaborn functions while you code. However, some of the documentation was getting blocked. I knew this wouldn’t be tough to wrap my head around.

Another lovely characteristic of Jupyter Notebooks, is that their instances are all node.js servers, and I like node. This got rid of the one dark area in development, which was I have no idea how to configure python packages. That is, I can change the source code no problem, but how would I test it. Thankfully, npm run build was all I needed to see the difference I was trying to make.

A little tweak to the .less file corresponding to the ‘tooltips’ within Jupyter Notebooks was all that was needed to fix what otherwise would be an annoyance to many.

And thus, a contribution can be made to a project which I currently enjoy using! And hopefully my code lands in the next build of notebooks.


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