4 Jupyter Notebook Alternative for Data Scientist

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1. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code or VS Code is a free and open-source IDE designed for programmers to running and executing their codes seamlessly. VS Code is versatile because they include many customizable extensions, code debugging, and GIT integration for versioning purposes.

In the past, VS Code is more suitable to developers or engineers because it did not have any capability for data analysis, but since 2020 VS Code team have worked together with the Jupyter team to bring an integrated notebook within the VS Code. The result is an amazing IDE workbook you could use for data analysis. Let me show you how the VS Code notebook integration works in the image below.

Image by Author

As you can see in the image above, you are running your code on the left side (where it looks like a cell in the Jupyter Notebook), and the result is shown on the right side. Let’s try to dissect in more detail how the process works.

Image by Author

First, to initialize the notebook cell, you need to type # %% on above the code you want to run as a cell similar to the Jupyter Notebook. When you do this, VS Code would automatically understand that you intended to initiate the Notebook and show up with the cell option. When you want to run the cell, you could run it using the shortcut shift + enter.

When you run the cell code, it would automatically run in the interactive notebook—for example; I run the following code.

Image by Author

In the image above, I load an mpg dataset and show up the dataset’s head (top 5 rows). In the notebook, it would process similar to the image below.

Image by Author

The capability is there, but why do we want to use VS Code notebook instead of the Jupyter Notebook? There are few reasons I could give you:

  1. If you are coming from a developer background, VS Code would feel familiar,
  2. VS Code is integrated with the GIT Versioning, which helps when you want to see your old code,
  3. Code Debugging exists in the VS Code, unlike in Jupyter Notebook.

There are many more reasons I could think of, but in the end, it would come back to your preferences.


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