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Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks

Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks

Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks


Jupyter Notebooks is a web-based python IDE that can be used for data analysis and visualization, a popular tool among data scientists and python developers alike. Offering users some versatility and other options that are missing when using python in the terminal. While there are certainly cases in which you may not want to use Notebooks (see here), using Notebooks can make your programming workflow more efficient.


As a GIS user, you can leverage Jupyter Notebooks and the ArcGIS API for Python to manage ArcGIS Online content, perform spatial and big data analytics, utilize geocoding services and so much more. This article will demonstrate how to get started using Jupyter Notebooks, and get familiar with the technology.


Install Jupyter Notebooks


There are several ways to get up and running with Jupyter Notebooks for this tutorial. 


Method 1: Local installation


You can install Conda and the ArcGIS API for Python, which comes preloaded with Jupyter Notebooks. To start, open a command prompt or terminal application and type the following to start jupyter:


jupyter notebook


Then proceed to the next section to continue.


Method 2: Esri Notebook Server


You can also use Esri’s notebooks server. Begin by clicking the “New” dropdown menu on the right hand corner of the page.


Figure 1: Esri notebook server homepage screenshot


Then click “Python 3” to start a new notebook with Python 3 as kernel. Click on the Notebook name at the top and give it a descriptive name.


Get Familiar with Notebooks


An input cell on a Jupyter Notebook can be interpreted as either Code, Markdown or RawNBConvert. This blog will only be covering how to run code and markdown. 


By default, all cells are set to be interpreted as python code, so if you want text you type to be interpreted by the Notebook as a heading or markdown, choose from the dropdown menu on the top.


Figure 2: Choose from dropdown menu to select how input cells should be interpreted


To execute a cell’s contents, click the Run button at the top or press Shift and Enter together. 


Figure 3: Run button


Pressing Enter after a line of code will allow you to move to a new line within the same cell. Let’s type a print statement into the cell and run it.


Figure 4: Print statement


Let’s explore our options for creating markdown text in Jupyter Notebooks. To create headings, all you have to do is simply preface your Markdown cell with pound signs. You can add anywhere from one to four pound signs to indicate the size of your headings. See Figure 5 and Figure 6 below to compare heading sizes before and after running the cell. 


Figure 5: Prefacing text with pound signs lets you create headings. Notebooks allow you to preview heading sizes in the cell before execution.


Figure 6: After executing the markdown text in Figure 5, the headings are created.


To create italic and bold text, you can surround the text in your markdown cell by single or double asterisks, respectively. Asterisks can also be replaced by underscores.


Figure 7: Markdown cell before execution show how to format italic and bold text.


Figure 8: Cell from Figure 7 after execution shows final styling of italic and bold text.


Once the cell is executed, a new input cell is created below it. You can continue writing your script by typing more lines of code into new cells and running them in order. Running logical chunks of your code in independent cells can help when you don’t have a well-defined final process for your script. If you’re still in the prototyping phase of your workflow, cells that have already been executed can easily be edited and then re-executed again for different results. 


Notebooks are like workbenches, where you can bring in tools to explore and run analysis to learn more about your data. Leverage data science and spatial analysis with a notebook that’s backed by server-based analytics.


Get Support


Need more support for Jupyter Notebooks? Have a unique GIS project in mind? Reach out to our GIS development experts to start a conversation about your unique needs today.

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