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Press Release from the Future

JupyterLab Metadata Explorer Press Release

JupyterLab takes a huge leap forward today with the announcement of the JupyterLab Metadata Explorer. This timely feature will enhance your data analysis experience by bringing you one step closer to the ultimate goal of being empowered by rich context throughout your analyses.

There is valuable contextual information–metadata–surrounding all of JupyterLab entities (notebooks, datasets, file, etc) which we call “rich context”. This rich context, if visible, enables the collaborative authoring of an emergent narrative around your work within JupyterLab. It empowers you to collaborate with your peers, discover new information, techniques, and results to help you make informed decisions. It gets to the heart of the underlying value of a dataset for stakeholder agencies and organizations and enables researchers to work with the data in a more effective manner. With the introduction of the JupyterLab Metadata Explorer, we enter a new phase of tooling which will surround the practitioner with rich context.

Prior to the Metadata Explorer, JupyterLab itself had no standard way to answer simple questions about rich context, such as:

  • Questions about datasets:
    • What is this dataset about?
    • What questions are being answered by it, and in which domains?
    • Which research groups are using it?
    • Are there research publications which use this dataset?
    • What version of this dataset am I using?
    • Who curated this dataset?
    • What other analysis use this dataset?
    • What other _datasets _are being used with this dataset?
  • Questions about notebooks:
    • Who first created this notebook?
    • Who has contributed to this notebook?
    • What other notebooks use these same datasets?
    • Has this notebook been copied or published? If published, does it have a DOI or URL?
  • Questions about people (e.g. people listed above as contributors, curators, etc):
    • What is their name, role, title?
    • What other topics, publications, projects, datasets, notebooks have they contributed to?

The list of questions above goes on, including questions around topics, domains, organizations, code cells, source code files, documents (PDFs, text files, etc.), publications, research teams, grants, experimental results, etc. An entire knowledge graph of metadata is exposed to the practitioner, built from small bits of metadata which are linked together to form a large network of knowledge. Knowledge is power, and users of JupyterLab will benefit tremendously from the Metadata Explorer inside JupyterLab.

The Metadata Explorer is part of a larger rollout named the JupyterLab Metadata Service, consisting of three components:

  1. Metadata Explorer: A user interface for exploring metadata knowledge graph.
  2. Metadata Catalogs: Collections of curated metadata (may exist in various formats).
  3. Metadata Providers: JupyterLab extensions linking catalogs into the explorer.

Metadata Catalogs already exist in various formats, are hosted in various ways by various organizations, and have many uses outside of JupyterLab. The Metadata Service will not attempt to re-invent these catalogs; rather, it merely uses the Metadata Providers and Metadata Explorer to expose those catalogs through the JupyterLab interface to the end-users. The result is that the Metadata Explorer can merge many catalogs together into a unified view!

Existing organizations can begin serving their metadata catalogs through JupyterLab by supplying a custom Metadata Provider extension to JupyterLab for their members to use. This offers several benefits:

  1. End users benefit from having relevant metadata served within JupyterLab.
  2. Security and access control is maintained. JupyterLab queries existing, well-tested systems. (It’s possible to configure these controls to give tiered access to individuals, or members of a project).
  3. Metadata will not be copied into a new system, thus there are no added maintenance costs.

The Metadata Service comes with one built-in Metadata Provider backed by GraphQL. It exposes a schema modeled after

Taken together, the result is a flexible system which serves both organizations and end-users. Organizations with existing metadata catalogs can serve their catalogs to their JupyterLab users (by writing or configuring a JupyterLab Metadata Provider). End-users can hand curate metadata on their own project files using the built-in Metadata Provider (GraphQL) or access other Metadata Providers (either supplied by their organization or by the greater JupyterLab community).

The JupyterLab Metadata Explorer is a step forward into the world of rich context, which is a long-term goal of the JupyterLab core team. Go download and install the JupyterLab Metadata Explorer today. Your metadata awaits you!

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