BioDynaMo supports the use of Jupyter Notebooks to create, run and visualize simulations in. This is a more user-friendly interface to BioDynaMo, and is intended mostly for educational and demonstrative purposes, as the performance capabilities are limited.

What is a Notebook?

Jupyter Notebook is a web application that allows you to interactively work with code snippets. It allows you to write text (in Markdown and/or HTML format) to give information about the contents of code snippets, or to give context. Besides code snippets, you can embed visualizations (e.g. BioDynaMo visualizations), and other forms of media (e.g. images, videos, etc.). A Notebook is composed of "cells" with certain contents. There are different type of cells to contain different types of content (e.g. code snippets, text).

You can use Notebooks to play around interactively with code snippets (e.g. to test code, or to quickly change parameters). Another great use is to create tutorials that can be presented to others for demonstrative or educational purposes. You can embed the visualization to bring across certain points about your simulation in an effective manner.

Notebooks in BioDynaMo are supported by the ROOT framework. Since simulations in BioDynaMo are currently written in C++, we make use of 'ROOT Notebooks' to get the same functionalities one would expect in regular (Python-based) Jupyter Notebooks.

How to open a Notebook

After you have installed BioDynaMo, there are a couple of Notebooks already available to play around with. They can be found in $BDMSYS/notebooks, and are in the file format .ipynb. You can open them by executing the following command in a terminal (where is sourced):

root --notebook

This will automatically open up the Notebook web application in your default browser. It should show a list of directories. Browse to your specific notebook, and click on the .ipynb file. This should open the notebook.

How to interact with a Notebook

The way to interact with a Notebook in BioDynaMo is almost exactly the same as with regular Jupyter notebooks.

You can execute the context of a cell by selecting a cell by simply clicking on it. Then from the menu bar open the "Cell" drop down menu and click on "Run Cells", or simply "Ctrl + Enter" on your keyboard. If you wish to go through the cells without having to select them individually you can also select the "Run Cells and Select Below" option from the "Cell" drop down menu, or "Shift + Enter" on your keyboard.

If you wish to execute the entire notebook at once you can click on "Restart & Run All" from the "Kernel" dropdown menu.


You can find a list of common shortcuts in the "command palette" by clicking on the keyboard icon in the menu bar

How to create a Notebook

If you are in the file browsing view of ROOT Notebooks, you can create a new notebook by pressing the "New" button on the right top corner, and selecting "ROOT C++". If you have already an existing Notebook open, you can achieve the same with "File" >> "New Notebook" >> "ROOT C++".