Getting started

Create delightful software with Jupyter Notebooks

NB: This is nbdev v2, a major upgrade of nbdev. Whilst the differences to nbdev1 aren’t huge, it does require some changes. The old version docs are at You can use version-pinning in settings.ini (i.e 'nbdev<2') to stop nbdev from upgrading. To upgrade, follow the migration tutorial.

nbdev is a system for exploratory programming. Simply write notebooks with lightweight markup and get high-quality documentation, tests, continuous integration, and packaging for free!

nbdev makes debugging and refactoring your code much easier than in traditional programming environments since you always have live objects at your fingertips. nbdev also promotes software engineering best practices because tests and documentation are first class.


nbdev works on macOS, Linux, and most Unix-style operating systems. It works on Windows under WSL, but not under cmd or Powershell.

You can install nbdev with pip:

pip install nbdev

… or with conda (or mamba):

conda install -c fastai nbdev

Note that nbdev must be installed into the same Python environment that you use for both Jupyter and your project.

How to use nbdev

The best way to learn to use nbdev is to complete one of these tutorials (we suggest replicating each step to solidify your understanding):

Video step-by-step walkthru (to view full screen, click the little square in the bottom right of the video; to view in a separate Youtube window, click the Youtube logo):

(There’s an alternate version of the walkthru available with the coding sections sped up using the unsilence python library – it’s 27 minutes faster, but it’s be harder to follow along with.)

You can run nbdev_help from the terminal to see the full list of available commands:

nbdev_bump_version              Increment version in settings.ini by one
nbdev_changelog                 Create a file from closed and labeled GitHub issues
nbdev_clean                     Clean all notebooks in `fname` to avoid merge conflicts
nbdev_conda                     Create and upload a conda package
nbdev_create_config             Create a config file
nbdev_deploy                    Deploy docs to GitHub Pages
nbdev_docs                      Generate docs
nbdev_export                    Export notebooks in `path` to Python modules
nbdev_filter                    A notebook filter for Quarto
nbdev_fix                       Create working notebook from conflicted notebook `nbname`
nbdev_ghp_deploy                Deploy docs in `doc_path` from settings.ini to GitHub Pages
nbdev_help                      Show help for all console scripts
nbdev_install                   Install Quarto and the current library
nbdev_install_hooks             Install Jupyter and git hooks to automatically clean, trust, and fix merge conflicts in notebooks
nbdev_install_quarto            Install latest Quarto on macOS or Linux, prints instructions for Windows
nbdev_merge                     Git merge driver for notebooks
nbdev_migrate                   Convert all directives and callouts in `fname` from v1 to v2
nbdev_new                       Create a new project from the current git repo
nbdev_prepare                   Export, test, and clean notebooks
nbdev_preview                   Start a local docs webserver
nbdev_pypi                      Create and upload Python package to PyPI
nbdev_quarto                    Create Quarto docs and
nbdev_readme                    Render from index.ipynb
nbdev_release                   Release both conda and PyPI packages
nbdev_release_gh                Calls `nbdev_changelog`, lets you edit the result, then pushes to git and calls `nbdev_release_git`
nbdev_release_git               Tag and create a release in GitHub for the current version
nbdev_sidebar                   Create sidebar.yml
nbdev_test                      Test in parallel notebooks matching `fname`, passing along `flags`
nbdev_trust                     Trust notebooks matching `fname`
nbdev_update                    Propagate change in modules matching `fname` to notebooks that created them


Q: Someone told me not to use notebooks for “serious” software development!

Watch this video. Don’t worry, we still get this too, despite having used nbdev for a wide range of “very serious” software projects over the last three years, including deep learning libraries, API clients, Python language extensions, terminal user interfaces, and more!

nbdev in the wild

fastai ecosystem

nbdev has been used to build innovative software in the fastai ecosystem, including the fastai deep learning library which implements a unique layered API and callback system, and fastcore, which supercharges Python leveraging its dynamic nature. Furthermore, nbdev allows a very small number of developers to maintain and grow a large ecosystem of software engineering, data science, machine learning, and devops tools.


If you want to contribute to nbdev, be sure to review the contributions guidelines. This project adheres to fastai’s code of conduct. By participating, you are expected to uphold this code. In general, we strive to abide by generally accepted best practices in open-source software development.

Make sure you have nbdev’s git hooks installed by running nbdev_install_hooks in the cloned repository.