Intro to ipywidgets#

Welcome back! We hope you gained a solid introduction to SQL and JupySQL in the first module.

Before we begin, did you know that you can use widgets, eventful Python objects that have a representation in the browser, to build fully interactive GUIs for your SQL query?

In this section of Interactive Queries and Parameterization, we introduce ipywidgets and demonstrate how to create widgets and their functionality. Moreover, you can use widgets to synchronize stateful and stateless information between Python and JavaScript.

ipywidgets, which is part of the Jupyter Widgets project, is a Python package that provides interactive HTML widgets for Jupyter notebooks and the IPython kernel. The package provides a basic, lightweight set of controls that allows for easy implementations of interactive user interfaces. These controls comprise a text area, text box, select and multiselect controls, checkbox, sliders, tab panels, grid layout, etc.

See more for a complete Widget List!


Let’s start off with an easy introduction to the ipywidgets package.

First, install ipywidgets in your environment by executing the following code:

%pip install ipywidgets --quiet
Note: you may need to restart the kernel to use updated packages.

The ipywidgets package is necessary to provide an interface for widgets. We introduce these widgets moving forward.

Numeric Widgets#

There are many widgets distributed with ipywidgets that are designed to display numeric values. Widgets exist for displaying integers and floats, both bounded and unbounded. The integer widgets share a similar naming scheme to their floating point counterparts. By replacing “Float” with “Int” in the widget name, you can find the Integer equivalent.

IntSlider and FloatSlider#

Numeric widgets provide further flexibility over basic data types. For example, the IntSlider and the FloatSlider, the simplest numeric widgets, can be employed to filter integer and float values respectively within a range (min and max) of your choice along with a step size and the value at which the slider is initialized. Moreover, we can create a bounded slider, indicated by the <= operator, or an unbounded slider, indicated by the >= operator, to filter the dataset within or outside our range of values respectively.

There are several other arguments, which can be found here, that can be passed into these sliders.

Let’s start by importing ipywidgets into your notebook, along with the display module from IPython.display

After creating a widget, you can display it using the display() function. An example for the IntSlider and its display is as follows:

import ipywidgets as widgets
from IPython.display import display

duration_lower_bound = widgets.IntSlider(min=0, max=1000, step=200, value=500)

Note: Other Numeric Widgets can be found here.

Boolean Widgets#

Boolean widgets display interfaces specifically for boolean values. There are three available boolean widgets that all have the same functionality: ToggleButton, Checkbox, and Valid. Let’s see how Checkbox works with an example.


Checkbox is a great boolean widget because it allows users to interact with a checkbox. We demonstrate its use below.

balance_over_500 = widgets.Checkbox(
    value=False, description="Balance > 500", disabled=False, indent=False

Selection Widgets#

There are several widgets that can be used to display single selection lists, and two that can be used to select multiple values. All inherit from the same base class. You can specify the enumeration of selectable options by passing a list. Options are either (label, value) pairs, or simply values for which the labels are derived by calling str.


The RadioButtons widget displays a list of options, of which exactly one can be selected. The user can select one of the options by clicking on the radio button. The current selected value can be accessed from the value attribute, which is by default the label of the selected option.

We show an example of using a RadioButton below.

seasons = widgets.RadioButtons(
    options=["Spring", "Summer", "Fall", "Winter"],
    #    value='Spring', # Defaults to 'Spring'

Select and SelectMultiple#

The Select and SelectMultiple widgets display a dropdown menu where one or more options can be selected. These two widgets are very similar to RadioButtons. The main difference is the type of display they output and how SelectMultiple allow for more than one option to be selected by holding down “shift”.

Try out the differences between Select and SelectMultiple below.

one_season = widgets.Select(
    options=["Spring", "Summer", "Fall", "Winter"],
multiple_season = widgets.SelectMultiple(
    options=["Spring", "Summer", "Fall", "Winter"],

Container/Layout Widgets#

We can position multiple widgets in a single cell’s output by utilizing container widgets. These container widgets’ main functionality is to hold other widgets, called children. There are several ways to layout your widgets, but we solely demonstrate VBox below with our previous example.


# The "children" widgets go into a list when used as an argument
widgets.VBox([one_season, multiple_season])

For more ways to layout your widgets, visit ipywidgets documentation here.

Applying ipywidgets with Functions#

We can integrate ipywidgets with functions and see the outputs of functions in real time! For example, say we have a function that multiples variable x and y. We can create widgets for x and y and show outputs of our function every time we adjust either widgets.

To demonstrate this, we need to first understand some more ipywidgets fundamentals, such as Output and .observe().

Output and .clear_output()#

Output is a widget that displays and handles cell outputs. We can use Output to have a certain cell act as the output for other widgets or functions.

out = widgets.Output()
with out:
    for i in range(10):
        print(f"Output {i}")

We can clear the the above cell’s output with .clear_output() attached to the Output widget.



.observe() is used to to register a function to an existing widget. By registering a function, the function is called whenever the widget’s value changes.

Putting It Together#

Let’s implement everything we’ve learned with the multiplication function using ipywidgets.

# Create the IntSlider widgets
x_slider = widgets.IntSlider(description="x:", min=0, max=10, value=5)
y_slider = widgets.IntSlider(description="y:", min=0, max=10, value=5)

# Create the Output widget
output = widgets.Output()

# Multiplication function

def multiply(x, y):
    return x * y

# Define a function to update the output when sliders are changed

def update_output(change):
    # Clear the Output widget every time the function is called
    with output:
        result = multiply(x_slider.value, y_slider.value)
        print(f"{x_slider.value} * {y_slider.value} is: {result}")

# Register the update_output function for slider value changes

display(x_slider, y_slider, output)

A great alternative to the above code is using the interact function. The interact function automatically generates the appropriate widgets based on the task at hand. Below is an implementation of the same task with the interact function.

# Create the Output widget
output = widgets.Output()

@widgets.interact(x=(0, 10), y=(0, 10))
def multiply_decorator(x, y):
    # Clear the Output widget every time the function is called
    with output:
        result = x * y
        print(f"{x_slider.value} * {y_slider.value} is: {result}")


Notice all the changes from using the interact function. We no longer explicitly create x and y with widgets. Instead, a range of them are given when using the @widgets.interact() decorator that is defined above the associated function.

Wrapping Up#

In this section we introduced ipywidgets and how they provide user interfaces within Jupyter environments. In the upcoming sections, we will delve back into SQL by showcasing how we can utilize ipywidgetes to create interactive queries. Further along the course, we will also revisit ipywidgets to demonstrate how they can be used to create interactive visualizations.