ADR 0004: Use the ipympl backend for Matplotlib figures in Jupyter

  • Status: accepted

  • Deciders: Neil, Simon

  • Date: October 2020


Arranging widgets around Matplotlib figures when using the notebook backend in Jupyter was difficult. The plot is displayed as soon as it is created, and the widgets can only be shown below a plot. In addition, the notebook backend only works in the classic notebook, and not in JupyterLab.


We switched to using the ipympl Matplotlib backend, where figures are now also ipywidgets and can be ordered in containers alongside other widgets.



  • Unifies the matplotlib figures with the slider widgets and the pythreejs scene for 3d plots.

  • Works in JupyterLab.


  • Adds a new dependency, as the ipympl backend does not ship with Jupyter by default.