As folks in our beta community may have noticed this weekend, we made a bit of a UI pivot. Literally.  We're delighted to introduce vertical pipes. At the conception of Flex.io, when the design was geared to a more dialog-centric, non-technical audience, it made sense to have a horizontal pipe builder, which offered space to provide a range of dialog controls, such as list boxes and drop-down selectors. However, as we moved away from dialogs toward commands and refocused the product on the developer community, we found that the horizontal pipe interface was bursting at...

One of our beta users was interested in how to use pipes to rout data to and from a static HTML page. We recently created an example of an output to HTML, but failed to show how an HTML input works. So, I created a very simple HTML example, which let's a user upload a text file via an HTML web form to a Flex.io pipe and then display the results: Simple, eh?  You can play with example here. Just use a file with a .txt extension for the upload. The Pipe The pipe is...

In the course of our private beta, I'd estimate that two-thirds of our sign-ups have come from developers and other IT folks. But, when you're kinda, sorta reinventing the query builder for data prep and ETL, why would a developer—a demigod who can pump out a script on demand—care? The short answer: data glue is annoying. For everyone. Even for engineers who can integrate APIs into their PHP or make data prep magic happen with Python, it's often a time-sucking sideshow -- particularly when there's a long to-do list of core development...

Cloud-based data pipes are, by nature, pretty flexible and able to handle a bunch of different kinds of data busywork. One of those uses is to spin up dynamic content without spinning up a server. This makes it possible to host a rich, interactive website on static backends like S3, GitHub, or Forge. We had occasion to do this ourselves today in an attempt at summarizing an experience of binge-listening to 95 SaaStr podcast episodes. During the journey, we compiled a data set and then, in the post, offered the static CSV...

Who needs a #drinkwithharry? Over the past few weeks, I tasked myself with listening to all ~32 hours of the SaaStr podcast, in preparation for the SaaStr Annual conference. Each show is an incredibly dense, 20-minute nugget on the business of SaaS. IMHO, it is totally and completely worthwhile to meander through twice-weekly. However. Powering through them all in one go was the equivalent of a Brain Blaster—more like binge-watching Planet Earth than Portlandia. Do as I say, kids, not as I do. So, what did I learn? Well, a ton. Let's try...

In my previous post, I covered some recurring themes from our conversations with different user communities in the data ecosystem, which highlight common facets of data projects. But different user communities also have their own distinct inclinations when it comes to working with data. We’ve had the pleasure of talking with users from a range of communities and learning about their data projects.  Although there’s some overlap, generally, you could categorize these groups as: 1) Enterprise IT professionals, 2) Data journalists, and 3) Full-stack and back-end Web developers. Here are some insights we’ve...

As we’ve progressed through our private beta, one of the most fruitful activities has been talking with folks in different user communities about their data projects. This has had a profound impact on our product vision and roadmap (including a few major pivots). A number of themes have come up again and again, so we thought it would be useful to distill this down to a few of the most significant points. We’ll cover the major themes in this post and then turn to some insights we’ve gained from different user...

Ah, remember the query builder? In the brief history of the data ecosystem, the query builder already seems like a relic of a bygone era. Compared to predictive analytics, machine learning, and all the innovation going on around Big Data, the query builder is hardly a shiny new thing. Basically, you could say it’s an old interface for old data technologies. And yet the query builder has hardly gone away. Considering that there are millions of business users and data analysts using legacy BI systems or (gasp!) Microsoft Access, it’s still one of...

Over the summer, we embarked on a research project to learn more about data journalism and how data journalists work with data. We’ve had the pleasure and privilege to speak with a wide range of veteran data journalists about their work.  These conversations have been insightful and, frankly, inspirational.  We’ve heard about Chicago-based investigations on criminal justice from Matt Kiefer and Jonah Newman, discussed the role of an editor in data projects  with a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Manny Garcia, and learned about sites like Joe Germuska’s Census Reporter that help journalists...

During our summer research project, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over 15 data journalists about their work so far.  And while we’ve been hearing fascinating stories and learning a lot about how they work with data, we also wanted to put some numbers to these conversations. Enter our Data Journalism Survey. This past month, we surveyed a sample of 27 data journalists, asking them about the data tools and languages they use, their common sources of data, the volume and format of their data, and the kinds of data tasks...