[IPython-dev] Just looking for feedback before PR

Brian Granger ellisonbg at gmail.com
Thu Nov 15 12:33:33 EST 2012


Very nice, I like the look of this.

A couple of months ago, I posted an idea on this list and got some
> feedback from Thomas and Matthias. The idea is to apply default CSS to
> Markdown cells.

 I see that you have just applied these styles to text cells, rather than
the rendered_html class.  Right now the tour version you are dealing with
puts the heading cells in the markdown rather than using actual heading
cells.  I have a PR open that updates all example notebooks to use actual
heading cells:

I think we want to have these styles applied to the heading cells, as well
as HTML output, so I would use the rendered_html class.

> Thomas suggested that the feature should be easy to disable, but on by
> default. I was also advised to expect a few iterations on the actual
> styles themselves. The PR wasn't made as I wanted to test the styles
> on a few real notebooks, to ensure the changes worked in practice.
> I've since had a chance to do that.
But there are a few bigger issues here - I think I missed the earlier
discussion - so I feel like I am playing catch up.  Some general thoughts
on this.

* There is a very specific look I have been trying to create with the
notebook, namely that of a clean, empty piece of white paper.  This means
have a very simple, uncluttered look with an absolute minimum number of
visual distractions and minimal styling.  Even adding the subtle shading to
the code cell's input area was a difficult decision, but one that I think
does make sense.  I think this is really important and is a key part of the
notebook's user experience.  In light of this, I think the style you have
created, while very good looking, doesn't match these overall design goals.
 Because of this, I don't think it makes sense to have it as the default.
* I regularly use custom styles in markdown cells to customize the look of
individual notebooks.  This is such a simple and elegant solution for
customization.  We should create a place on the github wiki that points to
css files on gists that have nice styles such as this, that users can plug
into notebooks.  If this turns out to be a nice way of working, we could
think about including this customization point in the notebook's (yet to be
written) configuration UI.
* I am willing to consider changing the notebook styling, but there has to
be a clearly identified problem each change is solving.  One change that I
have thought about is that the current heading styles take up a bit too
much vertical space.  That makes it difficult to view notebooks on screens
with small vertical real estate.  This is a very specific problem that has
a specific, focused solution.

Some specific comments about your style though:

* In some contexts it really is useful to emphasize the heading styles - I
like how that is done here.
* In general, we are using a small amount of border radius on all of our
rectangles with borders.  The sharp corners of the heading divs look
inconsistent with the rest of the UI look.
* I think the fill colors of the different heading levels need to have a
more consistent color scheme.  For example, right now the h1 color is grey,
but the h2 level is the same as the code cells.  Could you try to just
lighten or darken the code cell's fill color for the different heading
* I am finding that font size used in notebooks is very specific to the
purpose of the notebook.  For example, in presentations I up the font-size
dramatically.  I see you are using a larger font size (16pt for text) that
may or may not make sense for users.
* There are many things that I do like about your style though and in some
contexts I would use it.
* It would be wonderful if we could start to use less for all of our css -
even cooler if users could enter css using less in markdown cells.  That
would make it *much* easier to tune the look with a few lines of css/less.



I'm attaching my version of the Brief Tour notebook, with the styles
> applied, in the hope that I could get some feedback on both the styles
> and the new version of the notebook. I would have used nbviewer, but
> it currently ignores the styles tag that I've stashed inside the
> topmost Markdown cell.
> There's no urgency here at all ~ there's still plenty to iron out on
> both fronts anyway ~ but I'd really appreciate any input.
> Thanks for your time
> Carl
> # Notes
> * The <hr> style rule is a hack and will be looked into some more
> * The Tour could really do with an example of a HTML widget
>    communicating with the kernel, in a section called Widgets
> * The English hasn't been spell checked or proof read
> * The Acknowledgements could probably do with some editing. I
>    didn't know much about the history of some of the libraries, and
>    didn't know where to draw the line with what names to mention
> * The notebook is meant for people with no knowledge of IPython
>    so it isn't going to teach a core dev much
> * The notebook is meant as a fun demo, so no real instructions on
>    Notebook use are included
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Brian E. Granger
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
bgranger at calpoly.edu and ellisonbg at gmail.com
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