Using Nbdev with Google Colab

A little tutorial/run-thru of this would be great! Maybe even as a PR to the nbdev docs?..


Sure :slight_smile: I’ll have some time this weekend, I’ll whip something up! (with a video too)


Thanks a ton! I really want to use Nbdev to create a code base for things I use repeatedly and not copy paste them from one notebook to another. This will be a life saver :pray:t3:

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Hi muellerzr hi mate!
You said it in your Chai Time video.

I still don’t believe you sleep! image

cheers mrfabulous1 :smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley::smiley:

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I had a go today and managed to get through the entire nbdev tutorial using just Colab notebooks and google drive. It all worked just as intended including the automatically generated documentation on githubpages and even a working a pypi release of a test library. It was fiddly, with a few workarounds here and there to get nbdev, github, google drive and colab working together, but certainly possible.

Yes. I made it a bit more streamline with some functions, I’m going to release the tutorial today. (So you never leave your colab instance) The easiest option by far though is clone the repo into your notebook, then download the notebook, move it to your cloned repository on your machine, clean the notebook, convert to script, then push up to your repo.

Ok. Great. I’ll take a look at your tuturial as it sounds like you may have a more straighforward way of doing this and if I have anything else to add on top I’ll post it.

BTW. Good job with the ‘A walk with fastai2’ lesson. Looking forward to the others.

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Awesome :slight_smile: I’m hoping so. It was a bit frustrating to get it all running. You’ll notice the flaws immediately but I can’t seem to find a workaround for them. I’m hoping you (and others) can improve upon this second method.

And thank you! :slight_smile:

@mathew100 please see my post here and let me know any other ideas you may have :slight_smile: (especially for the bugs mentioned) Nbdev with Google Colaboratory: A Tutorial!


@muellerzr Thanks for doing this. I just had a quick look at the video. Your basic approach to working with nbdev exclusively from within Colab is very similar to mine though I’m not facing any of the bugs you mention, i.e. updates as expected and all tests pass OK (albeit after a bit of fiddling around). I’ll take a look at your code in more detail tomorrow and see what might be making the difference.

One thing to be careful of though is that when you clone the git repo to google drive with ‘!git clone…’ a copy of the username AND password gets stored in the local repo on google drive (in the .git/config file). Thus users must be careful NOT to share the local repo (on google drive) with anyone as it risks exposing their github password.

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@mathew100 thank you for the feedback! Ideally you shouldn’t need to clone that way. You should be cloning via just (or whatever your forked repo is) so I’m unsure if that’s still an issue? (I never used the user/pass method you described, only with add_origin. Does this still do the same? (I’m still learning git in a few places :slight_smile: ). If so: is there a way to get around this?

@muellerzr Cloning with just doesn’t store username/password details but on its own won’t allow you to push to github from Colab. You need to either ! git remote add origin (as you do in the git_setup function) or ‘! git clone…’ (which has been my approach) to allow pushing to github from Colab and in both cases the username/password gets stored in the local repo. There’s no way round this I don’t think so worth just warning people about it.

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Got it! Thank you for the clear explanation :slight_smile: That helped a lot! I’ll add this to the post :slight_smile:

The Nbdev project is great – I’ve been using on Gradient which is a persistent environment so you don’t need to do anything fancy. I just ran:

$ pip install jupyterlab-nvdashboard
$ jupyter labextension install jupyterlab-nvdashboard

Every time you start your notebook, it will still be there :slight_smile: In any case, I was thinking about installing Nbdev by default on all the templates. Is there any reason why that’s a bad idea?


No, that would be great I think!

PS: @dkobran I sent you an email with some important questions and requests on Dec 13th - please check your spam folder in case you missed it…

Can we use nbdev_update_lib within google colab?

Yes, you can use any bash command so long as you are in your nbdev project directory by adding a ! in front of it

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Hi @mathew100,
I found your PyPI package nbd-colab, but I’m having trouble using it.
I followed your documentation and did the below but at the very beginning ran into an error. I guess I missed some steps…

I create a Colab notebook and run the below

!pip install nbd_colab
from nbd_colab import *
from nbdev import *

leading to the below error:

AssertionError                            Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-18-53c94a362f4e> in <module>()
----> 1 from nbd_colab import *
      2 from nbdev import *

4 frames
/usr/local/lib/python3.6/dist-packages/nbdev/ in __init__(self, cfg_name)
     40         while cfg_path != cfg_path.parent and not (cfg_path/cfg_name).exists(): cfg_path = cfg_path.parent
     41         self.config_file = cfg_path/cfg_name
---> 42         assert self.config_file.exists(), "Use `create_config` to create settings.ini for the first time"
     43         self.d = read_config_file(self.config_file)['DEFAULT']
     44         add_new_defaults(self.d, self.config_file)

AssertionError: Use `create_config` to create settings.ini for the first time

I tried the below but got an name 'create_config' is not defined


Any input would be more than welcome :grin:

Hi @Mukei,
Thank you for this. Unfortunately, due to other pressures, I haven’t been keeping this package updated but it looks like when the package imports nbdev it looks for the settings.ini file (from nbdev_template) which hasn’t been downloaded yet and so throws an error and asks you to create it with create_config.

This may require some rewriting of my package which I’ll try to do but in the meantime, you can try either Zachary Mueller’s nbdev-colab (see earlier in this thread) or follow the instructions his tutorial video (also above) to get nbdev running on google colab and then the documentation I have written for using nbdev with colab should still come in useful for tips and troubleshooting etc.

@mathew100 Thank you for your reply.
I’ll have a look into nbdev-colab.