But Show Me *How* Jupyter is the New Excel

These are the slides, notes, and the resulting video from a presentation I gave at TekMountain on Tuesday, September 17th, inspired by the article mentioned below

I read this great article just a few weeks ago called “Jupyter is the New Excel“. I loved it, and was provoked by its premise, and wrote to the author to tell her so. This dominant and for many users intimidating part of the data science toolchain, called a Jupyter notebook, could be used for more everyday tasks. You didn’t have to do data science per se with notebooks, didn’t have to, like, crunch big data, worry about data storage, care what generalized least squares were. Jupyter was easy and useful enough to use for front office tasks, for fantasy football, dinner party invites, what have you. You could fool around with it!

I work at IBM, where I fool around with data science as a rank amateur, and I took the article as a jumping off point: Yes, how? How would Jupyter replace Excel exactly? How could you use Jupyter for your email marketing and fantasy football, for your real estate office spreadsheets?

So I thought I’d create this tech talk, a presentation where we can step through examples of everyday data crunching, the things that many of do now in Excel, see if the article’s premise checks out.

My goal is to introduce Jupyter notebooks very, very briefly, get right into just a few super-practical, everyday tasks, to not talk about data science, to welcome and un-intimidate. If I’m successful, I’ll persuade you that Jupyter notebooks are no more complicated to use than Excel, might work better for some things, can be the kind of ready-to-hand tool that spreadsheets are for many now. This might even be a gateway drug to do some better integrations of your data, which is where Jupyter starts to really outpace all these separate, versioned, weirdo macro-laden spreadsheets, or even be a useful starting point for some data-sciencing on your own :-)

Resources for learning more

Jupyter and Python and a lot of the premier data science tools are open source, which means there are a TON of resources out there for learning, trying. Here are a few good ones, focusing again not on the ocean of data science but on Jupyter notebooks:

Brython, browser-based Python

And if like a new lover or a Taylor Swiftie or a vegan you need your favorite programming language to really be everywhere, there’s Brython, which allows you to put Python code in <script> tags, where it talks to the DOM in a mostly Pythonic way, and have that code translated on the fly into JavaScript and sent to the browser.

Awkward in conception, probably pointless in production, it’s straight forward in execution. Import brython.js, call brython() on load, and you can do stuff like this

from browser import document, alert
def echo(ev):
    alert("Hello {} !".format(document["zone"].value))

document["test"].bind("click", echo)

The gallery shows some more useful things, like doing Ajax requests in Brython, sorting tabular data

But then I don’t know,…In the richer examples, like ones with decorators binding Brython functions to events, it starts to look a little more like a framework, like Flask or something. 

@bind("#get_test", "click")
def get(ev):
             data={"foo": 34})

Since Taylor Swift does country tunes, pop, politics, and emo, maybe it is time to throw out all my other music :-)



  • You are not competing against your partner. It’s a canoe! You’re both succeeding or neither of you are. Find out how to succeed together. 
  • You can paddle harder if you want, and you will probably want to. But that won’t help. In fact it will hinder progress. Paddle better not harder. 
  • Physical power is one of the least important traits of a canoe paddler. Especially of the stern paddler. Balance is better.
  • If you’re in the stern, don’t set the pace. It won’t work. Learn the pace. Adjust what you’re doing. Wait and watch.
  • Don’t do the same thing, do the thing that complements. Not unison. Or equal. You’re not the same people. Tandem.
  • The canoe has different roles. They’re not symmetrical. Take one. Engine, rudder. Switch if you want.
  • Work out the paddling and then stop thinking about it. Don’t get mired in the process. You’re in a canoe! There’s probably an amazing experience right outside the canoe.