nbdime – diffing and merging of Jupyter Notebooks

Version: 0.3.0.dev

nbdime provides tools for diffing and merging Jupyter notebooks.

example of nbdime nbdiff-web

Figure: nbdime example

Why is nbdime needed?

Jupyter notebooks are useful, rich media documents stored in a plain text JSON format. This format is relatively easy to parse. However, primitive line-based diff and merge tools do not handle well the logical structure of notebook documents. These tools yield diffs like this:

diff example using traditional line-based diff tool

Figure: diff using traditional line-based diff tool

nbdime, on the other hand, provides “content-aware” diffing and merging of Jupyter notebooks. It understands the structure of notebook documents. Therefore, it can make intelligent decisions when diffing and merging notebooks, such as:

  • eliding base64-encoded images for terminal output
  • using existing diff tools for inputs and outputs
  • rendering image diffs in a web view
  • auto-resolving conflicts on generated values such as execution counters

nbdime yields diffs like this:

example of nbdime's content-aware diff

Figure: nbdime’s content-aware diff


To get started with nbdime, install with pip:

pip install nbdime

And you can be off to the races by diffing notebooks in your terminal with nbdiff:

nbdiff notebook_1.ipynb notebook_2.ipynb

or viewing a rich web-based rendering of the diff with nbdiff-web:

nbdiff-web notebook_1.ipynb notebook_2.ipynb

For more information about nbdime’s commands, see Console commands.

Git integration quickstart

Many of us who are writing and sharing notebooks do so with git and GitHub. Git doesn’t handle diffing and merging notebooks very well by default, but you can configure git to use nbdime and it will get a lot better.

The quickest way to get set up for git integration is to call:

nbdime config-git --enable --global

This will enable the both the drivers and the tools for both diff and merge.

Now when you do git diff or git merge with notebooks, you should see a nice diff view, like this:

nbdime's command-line diff

Figure: nbdime’s ‘content-aware’ command-line diff

To use the web-based GUI viewers of notebook diffs, call:

nbdime-web [ref [ref]]
example of nbdime's content-aware diff

Figure: nbdime’s content-aware diff

If you have a merge conflict in a notebook, the merge driver will ensure that the conflicted notebook is a valid notebook that can be viewed in the normal notebook viewer. In it, the conflicts will be marked similarly to how git would normally indicate conflicts, and they can be resolved manually. Alternatively, nbdime provides a web-base mergetool for visualizing and resolving merge conflicts, and it can be launched by calling:

nbdime mergetool
nbdime's merge with web-based GUI viewer

Figure: nbdime’s merge with web-based GUI viewer

For more detailed information on integrating nbdime with version control, see Version control integration.


nbdime is developed with financial support from:

  • OpenDreamKit Horizon 2020 European Research Infrastructures project (#676541), http://opendreamkit.org .
  • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF #4856,by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and by the Helmsley Trust.