Using Real Time Collaboration feature in Datahub#

Real-Time Collaboration in Jupyter is one of the most requested functionalities, which has also proven to be a complex use case to develop. However, due to the generous contribution from various open-source contributors, this experimental functionality is enabled in a few hubs (Data 8 and D-Lab at the time of write-up). So, if you are interested in enabling this functionality in your respective hub, please check with the hub admins.

You can start collaborating with others by following the below steps,

Step 1#

Open your IPython (ipynb) notebook files in Jupyter Lab interface. If you are unsure how to generate a nbgitpuller link to access your notebook in Jupyter Lab or Retro Lab interfaces, Please install this plugin in the Mozilla Firefox browser, which will walk you through the steps required to generate the link for the file easily.


Please do keep in mind that Real-Time Collaboration(RTC) functionality is not enabled in classic notebook and retro lab interfaces!

Step 2#

As a next step, Generate the shareable link to be shared with your collaborators. Follow the below steps to generate this link,

  • In the Menu bar, Click on the Share option (option next to Help).

  • Select “Share Jupyter Server Link” which opens a prompt a the centre of the screen that shows an option to copy the shareable link.

  • Select “Copy Link” option which copies the link to your clipboard

Step 3#

Share this link with your collaborators. They will be able to access your notebooks immediately and make edits to the notebook in real-time. You can also see the cursors from other users with an anonymous username, a username that will disappear in a few seconds to make room for what is essential, the document’s content.


Fig. 26 Real Time Collaboration (RTC) in action#

Security considerations for adopting RTC!#

  • If a user shares a link with another user, They can modify all the files in the owner’s home directory for the specific hub, including other assignments and homework.

  • When a user who owns the notebook stops the server, then the validity of the shared link expires - either explicitly from the control panel or after non-activity for 60 minutes.

  • There is no option for the notebook owner to revoke the link, but they can stop the server, which makes the shared link invalid.

  • Anyone can forward the generated link to the next person as there is no link-level user control. Users would have to be careful where they share links while that server is active since anyone on the internet could gain control.

  • An user who has access to the shared link needs to leave the current session to go and work on their files.

If you are interested to learn more about how real time collaboration works in Jupyter Lab, do refer to this documentation If you are interested to get under the hood of real time collaboration and understand the framework enabling the shared data type, do refer to this documentation