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How to commit jupyter notebooks without output to git while keeping the notebooks outputs intact locally

Commit jupyter notebooks code to git and keep output locally

  1. Add a filter to git config by running the following command in bash inside the repo:
git config filter.strip-notebook-output.clean 'jupyter nbconvert --ClearOutputPreprocessor.enabled=True --to=notebook --stdin --stdout --log-level=ERROR'  
  1. Create a .gitattributes file inside the directory with the notebooks

  2. Add the following to that file:

*.ipynb filter=strip-notebook-output  

After that, commit to git as usual. The notebook output will be stripped out in git commits, but it will remain unchanged locally.

Source: StackOverflow

How to override the above for a specific notebook

This is useful if you sometimes want to add specific notebooks with their cell outputs intact to git, while still having the default behavior of clearing out cells.

  1. When adding to git a notebook whose cell outputs you want to keep, instead of the usual git add <path to your notebook> command, use this: git -c filter.strip-notebook-output.clean= add <path to your notebook>

Source: StackOverflow

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Based on this StackOverflow answer, I've added required field (git will fail if cleaning errors out) and moved .gitattributes to internal config.

  1. Add to .git/config:
    [filter "strip-notebook-output"]
    clean = "jupyter nbconvert --ClearOutputPreprocessor.enabled=True --ClearMetadataPreprocessor.enabled=True --to=notebook --stdin --stdout --log-level=ERROR"
    smudge = "cat"
  2. Create .git/info/attributes and add:
    *.ipynb filter=strip-notebook-output

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air-kyi commented Aug 15, 2023

I am having trouble getting the filter to actually activate. Does anyone know what to do in this case? I can only get it working on one device, but not the same repository on a different device, for two different repositories. I am adding the .gitattributes and .git/config on both different devices.

Working on: Python 3.11.4, conda 23.5.2, git
Not working on: Python 3.10.11, conda 23.3.1, git

It’s possible that despite the above changes the “old” data still shows and the filter is not applied. Here are a couple of things I’ve tried:

First, double-check that all steps, names, and paths are correct.

Second, try deleting and restoring the file(s) affected by the filter. I would delete the file directly (e.g. go into the Finder and Trash the file), then use git (e.g. git reset) to restore the file via a git mechanism. This should trigger git’s hook to apply filters.

If there are still problems, or you want to learn more nitty-gritty about git attribute keyword expansion support (what “git smudge and clean” is all about), you can check the official documentation: “Customizing Git Attributes: Keyword Expansion”.

Another source says I have to do git add --renormalize:

Whenever you change the clean filter, you have to renormalise your repository:

$ git add --renormalize .
After these changes, git will run automatically the command to clear output cells on every Jupyter notebook file added to the staging area.

But this didn't work for me, git bash didn't like the jupyter command ('unrecognized command') since git and jupyter are not in the same environment.

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@air-kyi Check if you can run jupyter nbconvert command manually. Also remember that filters are not a part of a repository. You need to add them manually on each device.

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air-kyi commented Aug 15, 2023

I did add them manually on each device; I tried running jupyter nbconvert --ClearOutputPreprocessor.enabled=True --to=notebook --stdin --stdout --log-level=ERROR manually in conda and it didn't do anything or loaded forever without error message, and the same command in git bash gave 'unrecognized command' (I wouldn't really expect it to run in git since jupyter is not associated with git?)

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It won't do anything because it waits for stdin input.
I don't have experience with conda, but if it works like venv, then that's where the problem is.

You'd need to install jupyter globally (easier) or modify filter to activate environment before running (harder). Try to run pip install nbconvert or python3 -m pip install nbconvert in git bash window. If it doesn't work: install python from and remember to check "add python to PATH" or something similar. Maybe you can do it with conda, but I have zero experience with that.

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33eyes commented Aug 16, 2023

Hey @air-kyi , sorry you are having trouble with this. Conda includes jupyter, so you should be all set with regard to jupyter installs. You don't need git bash for running non-git related commands (or even for git, for that matter), it just makes using git a bit easier, especially on Windows. For testing out nbconvert from command line, the command you ran will not work because you have a --stdin flag in it which tells it to wait for a notebook file from stdin input, as @konradmb pointed out. You can test running nbconvert from command line with this command instead: jupyter nbconvert --to html notebook.ipynb. It should output an HTML version of your notebook. If it works, then your nbconvert is probably fine.

I wrote the gist above as a little code snippet to use as a starting point that people can modify as needed for their own setup. I wrote it while working on a Mac, and judging from your git version it looks like you are on Windows. If that's the case, then you may need additional steps or some other configuration that is specific to Windows. You are welcome to fork this gist and create your own version for Windows. I would highly recommend posting a question about the errors you are getting on, and you'll get a bigger audience of people trying to help you troubleshoot your issues there. Git Gists are primarily for sharing code snippets and not so much for troubleshooting them in-depth. I think someone on StackOverflow will be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck!

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konradmb commented Aug 16, 2023

the command you ran will not work

@33eyes It will work, but won't output anything, just freeze. So that means jupyter command is available in PATH. But if running it from git bash gives 'unrecognized command', that means it's not in PATH anymore, so I suspect it's not in global PATH env var and that's how git would run it either when from git bash, cmd.exe, windows terminal or vscode etc. etc.

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air-kyi commented Aug 30, 2023

hi everyone, I solved the issue. it's because I was in a virtual environment and needed to add that specific installation of python to PATH.

  1. in Anaconda prompt, type where jupyter or just figure out where your jupyter.exe is stored in your venv
(orf) C:\Users\kyi>where jupyter
  1. add this path (without the jupyter.exe part) to a new variable in PATH

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NickCrews commented Sep 26, 2023

@33eyes can you add the 4th step of

  1. Run git add --renormalize . to go through all of your existing notebook files and scrub the outputs. Otherwise, you could get heinous merge conflicts later.

PS to people having PATH issues: If you are using VScode, perhaps your issue is caused by vscode running all of the git commands in a weird environment typically different from what you have on the command line.

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jfoclpf commented May 14, 2024

It works, you're great!

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It works but when trying to merge, it breaks the process as merging adds "<<<<<<<", "=======", ">>>>>>>" all over the place in the conflicting files. So if the conflicting file is a *.ipynb, jupyter nbconvert does not recognize the file as a proper JSON. And breaks when executing git mergetool or git diff <*.ipynb file>.
The solution I guess is to avoid executing the filter when running those commands but I'm not sure how to do that.

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If i remove the required from .git/config it loads the mergetool but the error still appears so it's not a clean solution.

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