unofficial-observablehq-compiler

An unofficial compiler for Observable notebook syntax (by asg017)

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Reviews and mentions

Posts with mentions or reviews of unofficial-observablehq-compiler. We have used some of these posts to build our list of alternatives and similar projects. The last one was on 2021-06-13.
  • I want to learn D3. I don’t want to learn Observable. Is that ok? (2019-2021)
    6 projects | news.ycombinator.com | 13 Jun 2021
    As someone building an in-browser notebook I have a lot of opinions on notebook environments. Notebooks serve different purposes, sometimes the notebook itself is the end-goal because the author is creating an interactive tutorial or explaining a complex concept with a bunch of visualizations. Observable is a fantastic tool for that, and the kind-of-Javascript reactive programming system it is built on is a great fit for that.

    Outside of that use-case, I think notebooks are great for the first 20% of the effort that gets 80% of the work done. If it turns out one also needs to do the other 80% of the effort to get the last 20%, it is time to "graduate" away from a notebook. For instance if I am participating in a Kaggle machine learning competition I may train my first models in a Jupyter notebook for quick iteration on ideas, but when I settle onto a more rigid pipeline and infra, I will move to plain Python files that I can test and collaborate on.

    This "graduation" from notebook to the "production/serious" environment should be straightforward, which means there shouldn't be too much magic in the notebook without me opting into it. Documentation in my eyes is not so different, I should be able to copy the examples easily into my JS project without knowing specifics of Observable and adapt it to my problem. Saying "don't be lazy and just learn Observable", or "you must learn D3 itself properly to be able to use it anyway" is not helpful. Observable being a closed, walled garden doesn't help: not being able to author notebooks without using their closed source editor is a liability that I can totally understand makes it a non-starter for some companies and individuals.

    I think it's ok to plug my own project: It's called Starboard [1] and is truly open source [2]. It's built on different principles: it's hackable, extendable, embeddable, shareable, and easy to check into git (i.e. I try to take what makes the web so great and put that in a notebook environment). You write vanilla JS/ES/Python/HTML/CSS, but you can also import your own more advanced cell types. Here's an example which actually introduces an Observable cell type [3] which is built upon the Observable runtime (which is open source) and an unofficial compiler package [4]. I would be happy for the D3 examples to be expressed in these really-close-to-vanilla JS notebooks, but I can convince the maintainers to do so.

    [1]: https://starboard.gg

    [2]: https://github.com/gzuidhof/starboard-notebook

    [3]: https://starboard.gg/gz/open-source-observablehq-nfwK2VA

    [4]: https://github.com/asg017/unofficial-observablehq-compiler

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