If you've ever worked with code in your professional life, then you've probably faced the challenge of explaining and sharing very complex concepts to other people. Often, the explanations are not very useful without showing a code snippet. But the code snippet often doesn't clearly explain things either because you can't run the snippet and demonstrate the concept. This can be a major hurdle when it comes to learning programming. With its Microsoft Azure Notebooks service, Microsoft aims to make creating and sharing live, working code an easier process. Microsoft Azure Notebooks is available free of charge and represents yet another way for people to learn programming and data science outside of traditional schooling.
Microsoft Azure Notebooks lets users get started quickly on tasks such as data visualization and prototyping, all within a web browser. It's an implementation of the popular open-source (OS) Jupyter Notebooks service and is available to anyone who creates a free account. According to Microsoft, popular applications for the platform include machine learning (ML) models and data science visualization.
The Coding Education Wave
More people than ever from diverse, non-technical backgrounds are learning how to code. There are a wealth of online resources available for learning all manner of languages and technologies. For professionals in all fields, learning these technologies is now seen not only as a bonus skill set for one's resume but as being essential for thriving in an ever-changing employment landscape.
Straightforward and User-Friendly
Using Microsoft Azure Notebooks is straightforward. After creating an account, users can view any of the thousands of available notebooks, all of which look very similar to a PDF white paper. The only difference is that the code snippets you see on the page can be run in real time by clicking the "run" button at the top of the page. Notebook libraries are uploaded by Ivy League institution like Harvard and prominent tech engineers. You can also create your own books in which you can write out and test your own code.
Microsoft Azure Notebooks serves two different audiences. First, engineers and developers can instantly share their work without their peers needing to install environments or other prerequisite software. Additionally, Microsoft Azure Notebooks is an educational tool both for novices and experts alike. There are many notebooks that introduce users to languages and concepts in friendly, interactive ways. With the rapid growth of both data science and ML, even everyday business users will find Azure Notebooks useful.
"From a business perspective, you can look at it beyond the scope of a teaching or hobbyist platform," said Shahrokh Mortazavi, Partner Director of Engineering for Microsoft Azure Notebooks. "We see it as a great step to get into learning about ML, building models, and deploying them. The spectrum it covers is from learning R and Python to learning data science to training models to deploying the models."
Microsoft Azure is just one available service that can help users capitalize on the growing trend of data democratization. A recent Gartner Research forecast predicted that analytic output by non-technical users will surpass that of dedicated data scientists by the year 2019. That's because tools such as IBM Watson Analytics , with their simplified user interfaces (UIs) and support for natural language (NL) querying, make it easy for employees to glean insights from their data on their own, without having to ask a data professional for help.
But, even though working with data is becoming easier than ever, learning something about how these tools work beneath the surface could actually help expand users' leveraging of data, too, and that's where Microsoft Azure Notebooks can really help. As organizations continue down the path of data democratization, educational tools like these will be important when it comes to bringing non-technical users into the fold.