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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces .NET Support for Jupyter Notebooks

Microsoft Announces .NET Support for Jupyter Notebooks

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Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the public preview of .NET Core support to Jupyter Notebooks. This release is part of the Try .NET project, an interactive documentation generator for .NET Core.

The Jupyter Notebook is a web application that allows the creation of online documents containing both explanatory text and live, runnable code snippets. The addition of .NET Core support for Jupyter allows the creation of notebooks with code written in C# and F#. According to Maria Naggaga, senior program manager at Microsoft:

The initial set of features we released needed to be relevant to developers, with Notebook experience as well as give users new to the experience a useful set of tools they would be eager to try.

In this first release, .NET notebooks support different forms of programmatic output, such as displaying information in table format and rendering charts (using Xplot.Plotly). NuGet packages can also be loaded into code snippets, which is of particular relevance due to the popularity of Jupyter Notebooks among big data and machine learning developers.

NuGet support allows the use of ML.NET in documents related to machine learning scenarios, such as model training experiments, learning, and plotting data. Big data use cases are covered with .NET for Apache Spark, which allows developers to write and run Apache Spark queries in notebooks and developing end-to-end big data scenarios. More information about how to use ML.NET and Apache Spark in Jupyter notebooks can be respectively found here and here.

While Jupyter and Try .NET are similar in concept, the latter provides significantly more integration with the .NET ecosystem. Besides providing .NET support for Jupyter, Try .NET is also distributed as a .NET Core global tool that can be used to create interactive documentation integrated with existing code. An extended markdown is used to reference specific regions within a source code file. This way, instead of writing down a code sample inside a code block, the writer can reference a region defined in another code file. The global tool can also be used in conjunction with .NET Core templates. At the moment, however, the global tool only supports C#.

Running .NET Jupyter Notebooks requires both Jupyter and .NET Core 3.0 SDK to be installed. For a zero-install experience, notebooks can be created and shared using Binder. More information about getting started with .NET Jupyter notebooks can be found here.

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