Mozilla Releases An Experimental Tool to Help Data Scientists Create Interactive Documents

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Iodide, an open source browser tool will enable data scientists to create, share, collaborate, and reproduce powerful reports and visualizations

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Mozilla has unveiled Iodide, an “experimental tool” meant to help scientists and engineers write and share interactive documents using web technologies, within an iterative workflow.

It’s currently in the alpha state, and available from GitHub in open source.

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“Iodide is a tool designed to give scientists a familiar workflow for creating great-looking interactive documents using the full power of the web platform,” Brendan Colloran, staff data scientist at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post.

According to Colloran, building Iodide in the web simplifies a number of the elements of workflow friction that are encountered in other tools.

He explained, “Sharing is simplified because the write-up and the code are available at the same URL rather than, say, pasting a link to a script in the footnotes of a Google Doc … And because browsers provide a compatibility layer, you don’t have to worry about notebook behavior being reproducible across computers and OSes.”

Mozilla provides a simple server for saving and sharing notebooks

Iodide aims to tighten the loop between exploration, explanation, and collaboration. Central to that is the ability to move back and forth between a write-up and a useful environment for iterative computational exploration.

To support collaborative workflows, Mozilla has built a simple server for saving and sharing notebooks. But it noted that the notebooks themselves can be migrated to another server or exported as a bundle for sharing on other services like GitHub Pages or Netlify.

In the future, Mozilla hopes to add comment threads, the ability to suggest changes to users’ notebooks, simultaneous notebook editing, more languages, and a browser extension and APIs that would allow Iodide to work with client-side text editors.

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