[IPython-dev] Separating the notebook from the file manager+text editor+terminal

Thomas Kluyver takowl at gmail.com
Sun Aug 10 20:22:03 EDT 2014

We've often said that, for people accessing the notebook on a remote
server, we need to provide certain basic utilities - like the dashboard,
which is now under pressure to evolve into a file manager, and an
in-browser terminal and text editor, both of which we intend to add to the

I propose that we separate development and packaging of the notebook from
the project to assemble this trio. The new project would live under the
Jupyter org, and be called something like 'utility-apps'. I see several
advantages of this:

- A different crowd of developers may be attracted to work on that, without
having to know anything about the internals of IPython's machinery for
handling and executing code. For instance, I'm pushing back on turning the
dashboard into a full blown file manager, because I think that adds a lot
of extra complexity in a codebase that's already complex, but if it was a
separate project, it could grow into a file manager without being a problem.
- People running the notebook locally may want to install just the notebook
component, and not poor web-based clones of applications which they have
well developed equivalents for already installed.
- There are lots of potential users of the file manager/text
editor/terminal trio who probably wouldn't use the notebook: for instance,
it could be a basic admin interface to any server.
- It could become a base on which people could write other HTML
applications to meet their own needs. Following our usual MO, I wouldn't
try to design it like this straight away, but keep it in mind, and evolve
the APIs as things mature.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered. How would this new
component interface with the notebook server? What would the notebook look
like without the file manager installed? But these could certainly be
worked out, and I think they're worth working out in order to keep the
scope of the notebook project in check.

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