Getting Started

Create delightful software with Jupyter Notebooks

nbdev is a notebook-driven development platform. 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 how to use nbdev is to complete either the written walkthrough or video walkthrough:

Alternatively, there’s a shortened version of the video walkthrough with coding sections sped up using the unsilence Python library – it’s 27 minutes faster, but a bit harder to follow.

You can also 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 a `meta.yaml` file ready to be built into a package, and optionally build and upload it
nbdev_create_config       Create a config file.
nbdev_docs                Create Quarto docs and
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_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 markdown and notebook files in `path` from v1 to v2
nbdev_new                 Create an nbdev project.
nbdev_prepare             Export, test, and clean notebooks, and render README if needed
nbdev_preview             Preview docs locally
nbdev_proc_nbs            Process notebooks in `path` for docs rendering
nbdev_pypi                Create and upload Python package to PyPI
nbdev_readme              Create from readme_nb (index.ipynb by default)
nbdev_release_both        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_requirements        Writes a `requirements.txt` file to `directory` based on settings.ini.
nbdev_sidebar             Create sidebar.yml
nbdev_test                Test in parallel notebooks matching `path`, passing along `flags`
nbdev_trust               Trust notebooks matching `fname`
nbdev_update              Propagate change in modules matching `fname` to notebooks that created them
nbdev_update_license      Allows you to update the license of your project.


Q: What is the warning “Found a cell containing mix of imports and computations. Please use separate cells”?

A: You should not have cells that are not exported, and contain a mix of import statements along with other code. For instance, don’t do this in a single cell:

import some_module

Instead, split this into two cells, one which does import some_module, and the other which does some_module.something().

The reason for this is that when we create your documentation website, we ensure that all of the signatures for functions you document are up to date, by running the imports, exported cells, and show_doc functions in your notebooks. When you mix imports with other code, that other code will be run too, which can cause errors (or at least slowdowns) when creating your website.

Q: Why is nbdev asking for root access? How do I install Quarto without root access?

A: When you setup your first project, nbdev will attempt to automatically download and install Quarto for you. This is the program that we use to create your documentation website.

Quarto’s standard installation process requires root access, and nbdev will therefore ask for your root password during installation. For most people, this will work fine and everything will be handled automatically – if so, you can skip over the rest of this section, which talks about installing without root access.

If you need to install Quarto without root access on Linux, first cd to wherever you want to store it, then download Quarto, and type:

dpkg -x quarto*.deb .
mv opt/quarto ./
rmdir opt
mkdir -p ~/.local/bin
ln -s "$(pwd)"/quarto/bin/quarto ~/.local/bin

To use this non-root version of Quarto, you’ll need ~/.local/bin in your PATH environment variable. (Alternatively, change the ln -s step to place the symlink somewhere else in your path.)

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

A: 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!


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.