Alan Gibson

Alan Gibson

Chewing through the 'net

© 2019

Please Stop Linking To Google Colaboratory

I’m seeing more and more machine learning resources linking to Google Colaboratory. Please, for the sake of future learners, don’t do this. If you want to host your examples on Google Colab, save yourself some effort and all of us some heartache, and just go ahead and delete it before Google inevitably does.

Now if you want to use it for your own purposes in the short time it will be alive, go right ahead. Just don’t make us trying to learn from your hard work (and we thank you for it) suffer when they inevitably kill it.

Here’s problem number 1:

https://colab.research.google.com

Colaboratory is a Google Research project. If you thought Google proper killed projects fast and often, how commited to you think Google Research is to keeping services alive over the long term?

Here’s problem number 2:

“Colab is a hosted Jupyter notebook service that requires no setup to use, while providing free access to computing resources including GPUs.”

(Source)[https://research.google.com/colaboratory/faq.html]

Free access. To GPUs. How long do you think they will keep paying that bill for you?

Here’s problem number 3:

“The Azure Notebooks preview will be retired on January 15th, 2021, and all user data will be destroyed. Please download your user data before then. To execute notebooks or create new notebook content, learn about our other notebooks experiences at Microsoft.”

(Source)[https://notebooks.azure.com/]

It’s already happened before.

Alternatives

Azure Notebooks and Google Colaboratory are both glorified Jupyter Notebook servers, so let’s think about how we can get the same effect without the link rot. If you are just blogging, consider statically rendering your Jupyter Notebook as HTML with nbconvert. If you want live examples, consider running your own Jupyter Notebook server. It will cost you something, but it will also protect the value of your work for as long as you feel like it should be available.

And finally, thanks for the work you’re doing to make the world a smarter place.