mage: Fluid Moves Between Code and Graphical Work in Computational Notebooks

Published at UIST in Minneapolis, MN 2020
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We aim to increase the flexibility at which a data worker can choose the right tool for the job, regardless of whether the tool is a code library or an interactive graphical user interface (GUI). To achieve this flexibility, we extend computational notebooks with a new API mage, which supports tools that can represent themselves as both code and GUI as needed. We dis- cuss the design of mage as well as design opportunities in the space of flexible code/GUI tools for data work. To understand tooling needs, we conduct a study with nine professional practitioners and elicit their feedback on mage and potential areas for flexible code/GUI tooling. We then implement six client tools for mage that illustrate the main themes of our study findings. Finally, we discuss open challenges in providing flexible code/GUI interactions for data workers.