Practical Business Python

Taking care of business, one python script at a time

Mon 04 May 2020

Exploring an Alternative to Jupyter Notebooks for Python Development

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

Jupyter notebooks are an amazing tool for evaluating and exploring data. I have been using them as an integral part of my day to day analysis for several years and reach for them almost any time I need to do data analysis or exploration. Despite how much I like using python in Jupyter notebooks, I do wish for the editor capabilities you can find in VS Code. I also would like my files to work better when versioning them with git.

Recently, I have started using a solution that supports the interactivity of the Jupyter notebook and the developer friendliness of plain .py text files. Visual Studio Code enables this approach through Jupyter code cells and the Python Interactive Window. Using this combination, you can visualize and explore your data in real time with a plain python file that includes some lightweight markup. The resulting file works seamlessly with all VS Code editing features and supports clean git check ins.

The rest of this article will discuss how to use this python development workflow within VS Code and some of the primary reasons why you may or may not want to do so.

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Mon 30 March 2020

Using WSL to Build a Python Development Environment on Windows

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

In 2016, Microsoft launched Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) which brought robust unix functionality to Windows. In May 2019, Microsoft announced the release of WSL 2 which includes an updated architecture that improved many aspects of WSL - especially file system performance. I have been following WSL for a while but now that WSL 2 is nearing general release, I decided to install it and try it out. In the few days I have been using it, I have really enjoyed the experience. The combo of using Windows 10 and a full Linux distro like Ubuntu is a really powerful development solution that works surprisingly well.

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Tue 18 February 2020

Python Tools for Record Linking and Fuzzy Matching

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

Record linking and fuzzy matching are terms used to describe the process of joining two data sets together that do not have a common unique identifier. Examples include trying to join files based on people’s names or merging data that only have organization’s name and address.

This problem is a common business challenge and difficult to solve in a systematic way - especially when the data sets are large. A naive approach using Excel and vlookup statements can work but requires a lot of human intervention. Fortunately, python provides two libraries that are useful for these types of problems and can support complex matching algorithms with a relatively simple API.

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Mon 20 January 2020

Using Markdown to Create Responsive HTML Emails

Posted by Chris Moffitt in articles   

As part of managing the PB Python newsletter, I wanted to develop a simple way to write emails once using plain text and turn them into responsive HTML emails for the newsletter. In addition, I needed to maintain a static archive page on the blog that links to the content of each newsletter. This article shows how to use python tools to transform a markdown file into a responsive HTML email suitable for a newsletter as well as a standalone page integrated into a pelican blog.

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Mon 23 December 2019

Creating Interactive Dashboards from Jupyter Notebooks

Posted by Duarte O.Carmo in articles   

I am pleased to have another guest post from Duarte O.Carmo. He wrote series of posts in July on report generation with Papermill that were very well received. In this article, he will explore how to use Voilà and Plotly Express to convert a Jupyter notebook into a standalone interactive web site. In addition, this article will show examples of collecting data through an API endpoint, performing sentiment analysis on that data and show multiple approaches to deploying the dashboard.

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