November 23, 2022

When not Google Colab

As a Python developer there sure are quite a few tools out there to optimize work, but when you should you use each one?

Abstra Cloud and Google Colab are two of the most solid platforms for developing and sharing Python scripts. In this article we will try to showcase both tools’ strengths and use cases. Check it out! 😉

First things first

Abstra Cloud is a cloud suite for Python scripts with its most distinctive feature being the ability to easily build interfaces for your scripts with simple read() and display() functions and share it online. You can also easily schedule your scripts as jobs and deploy them as webhooks.

Google Colab on the other hand, is a Python notebook where you can run your code online with zero settings needed and share it with other people.

Now let's see the use cases.

Sharing your scripts 🤝🏼

Sometimes Python scripts are used by the people who also need to edit them. In this case, Colab notebooks are great - they can become collaborative (hence the punny name) Python documents anyone can work on and play with.

On the other hand, when all you need is for people to be able run with your scripts with some inputs, grab the outputs and not see, touch, copy or edit any of the code used, Abstra Cloud’s Smart Forms really shine as they create code-free interfaces, made available online with a shareable url. It's a brilliant for sharing with colleagues or external stakeholders who just need to execute - no hassle. You can still require login and control permissions just as easily.

Debugging 🐛

Most of the developer work is to debug the code they just wrote and as the script becomes bigger and bigger debugging becomes harder and harder, at the same pace.

In Colab you can clip your code in smaller steps and run each of them progressively and set a somewhat of a save state between each step thus making the debugging process easier and less painful.

In Abstra Cloud your executions come with detailed logs that allow for easier debugging. Features such as repeating answers in your Smart Forms and variable inspection also speed up testing for bugs.

Automation 🤖

If your script requires no manual input and can predictably run on a scheduled frequency, the next step might be configuring a cron service. Or is it?

Since Colab doesn’t support scheduling, you’d need to buy, setup and manage another platform like AWS’s Lambda Functions, and then a Cloud Watch service to execute it on schedule. Or, you might try setting up a DAG in Airflow….

With Abstra, jobs are built in. Just paste your script, select a frequency - every day, every hour or custom configs such as first and last day of the month - and hit “Publish”. That’s it.

It is also possible to hook up your script as a webhook and let your script run whenever your other services call it via a simple request.

All of that with a simple and code-less UI. No need to set up any infrastructure.

Collaboration 💪🏼

Colab's zero settings and synchronous coding makes collaboration feel natural, similarly to their Docs feature.

Abstra Cloud also has a knack for collaboration, especially teamwork. Aside from sharing no-code script executions UIs via URL, you can share an entire workspace with co-workers. This means a collaborative building environment, with all the same packages, versions, env vars, and more. Access control is easy to set up, granting different permissions to different members.

As you might have noticed, Abstra Cloud and Colab should be used in a complementary fashion to boost your daily work, especially if played to their best strengths.

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