Better Sharing Controls

We decided to overhaul Nextjournal’s sharing controls to have one unified place for all sharing settings and make a clearer distinction between public and private. Read on to learn about the problems this solves and how the new sharing controls work.

Public vs. Private

Until recently, the meaning of publishing a notebook was quite ambiguous. You could create a private notebook and once you published it, the published version would still be private, either to you (and your collaborators) or the group it belongs to. This is the exact opposite of what it means to publish something. 🤔

To make it even more confusing, the latest draft of your notebook would always be private, not matter what visibility you chose or if the notebook was published or not.

So the first big change is that, from now on, public and private will be true to their meaning:

  • If you create a private notebook, only you or the group it belongs to can see it.

  • This changes once you publish a version of the notebook. If you publish a private notebook, the published version can be seen by everyone. The latest draft, however, is only visible to you or the group it belongs to.

  • If you create a public notebook, everyone can see a read-only version of the current working draft. You can then publish a version anyway to provide the default version readers should see. At any point, readers will always be able to switch between the latest draft version and the published version.

We believe this makes the public/private distinction much clearer. Also "public" meaning that readers can always see the latest draft provides a transparency that is much more aligned with Open Science.

Everything in one place

We also decided to move all sharing-related controls into one unified Share menu that lives in the top bar. In addition to reducing the need to hunt around for the right menu, this has the following advantages.

  • Under the Visibility section, you can see at one glance who can read your notebook. You can switch between public and private with clear explanations what this means.

  • This section will also show you if there are changes that can be published.

  • Under Ownership Profile you can select the profile this notebook belongs to (either you or a group you belong to). This is also the profile the notebook is available from when published.

  • There’s no more need to publish a version to set up a slug (pretty URL). Under the Slug section, you can set up or change your notebook’s URL anytime.

  • Under Collaborators, you can see who can edit your notebook besides yourself. The collaborators section will also show the group if your notebook belongs to a group profile.

  • Under Shareable Links, you can generate and revoke a read-only link to send around and gather feedback on your current working draft.

With moving visibility, ownership and more into this menu, we reduced the need for what was previously called Notebook settings. Additional controls, like Archive, Export as Markdown and Numbered Headings now live in the ••• menu on the top right:


Exporting a runtime’s environment is also no longer dependent on publishing the notebook. No matter if your notebook is private or public, you can set up access control for your exported environment individually, right from the runtime’s settings panel:

This way you can have a private draft but still allow to re-use its exported environments in other notebooks.

Defaulting to Private

Now, cleaning up how public and private works also has implications on pricing and the default for creating new notebooks. Previously, new notebooks were defaulting to public. Creating private notebooks was a paid feature but since draft versions were always private this was no big deal for new users. This changes now.

From now on, creating new notebooks will default to private so that the draft version is also private right from the beginning. This is until you decide to publish a version or work in the open. Following that, our free plans will be able to create unlimited private notebooks for now. This will likely be limited in the future as we plan to overhaul our pricing structure soon but until then, knock yourself out with creating private notebooks.

Along with this change, we are also making secrets management accessible to free plans so that you can experience the full gamut of features right from the start.

We hope that you find these changes helpful and, as always, please get in touch if you have any feedback or questions for us!