Using the Data Browser

Note: the data browser requires ipywidgets to be available in the current environment

The Intake top-level singleton intake.gui gives access to a graphical data browser within the Jupyter notebook. To expose it, simply enter it into a code cell (Jupyter automatically display the last object in a code cell).


New instances of the GUI are also available by instantiating intake.DataBrowser, where you can specify a set of catalogs to initially include.

The GUI contains:

  • a list of catalogs. The “builtin” catalog, displayed by default, includes data-sets installed in the system, the same as
  • a list of entries within the currently-selected catalog. Entries marked with " ->" are themselves catalogs, clicking them will load the catalog and update the left-hand listing. Clicking any other entry will display some basic information in the right-hand text box.
  • The following controls:
    • Search: opens a sub-panel for finding entries in the currently-selected catalog (and it’s sub-catalogs)
    • Add: opens a sub-panden for adding catalogs to the interface, by either browsing for a local YAML file or by entering a URL for a catalog, which can be a remote file or Intake server
    • Remove: delete the currently-selected catalog from the list

Add Catalogs

The Add button exposes a sub-panel with two main ways to add catalogs to the interface


A file selector. Use the folder icon to open this below the main GUI. You can navigate around the filesystem, and select the catalog file you need. Use the tick icon to accept the selection, or the cross button to close the selector without accepting the selection. If accepted, the catalog will appear in the listing, unless parsing of the file fails:


A URL editor. Any URL is valid here, including cloud locations, "gcs://bucket/...", and intake servers, "intake://server:port". Without a protocol specifier, this can be a local path. Again, use the check button to accept the value, and attempt to load the file into the interface’s catalogs list.


Finally, you can add catalogs to the interface in code, using the .add_cat() method, which can take filenames, remote URLs or an existing Catalog instance.

Using the Selection

Once catalogs are loaded and the correct entry has been identified and selected, the item in question will be available as the .item attribute (intake.gui.item), which has informational methods available and can be opened as a data source, as with any catalog entry:

In [ ]: intake.gui.item.describe_open()
Out   : {'plugin': 'csv',
         'description': 'Arctic/Antarctic Sea Ice',
         'direct_access': 'forbid',
         'metadata': {},
         'args': {'urlpath': '',
         'metadata': {}}}

In [ ]: s = intake.gui.item()  # may specify parameters here
Out   : < some data >

In [ ]: intake.gui.item.plot()  # or skip data source step
Out   : < graphics>