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...

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...

As everyone knows by now, data is the new black. Conventional wisdom says businesses will either be data-driven or be at a serious competitive disadvantage. But, as everyone also knows by now, it takes significant effort to get raw data refined before you can extract its sweet analytic elixirs. Flex.io is a productivity tool that falls squarely into this world of data preparation. However, data preparation is a pretty broad category itself -- and can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. So, we recently set out to create a ~1 minute...

One of the most important promises of open data from government agencies is the potential for greater transparency. As Jeni Tennison, technical director of the Open Data Institute, puts it: Publishing open data is one way of being more transparent about what you're doing. More transparency can help with being more accountable for your decisions [and] help engender trust. Trust and transparency are central to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). Among U.S. Federal agencies, it certainly has attracted a large share of controversy since starting out as the brainchild of Massachusetts Senator...

It's a story as old as time. It's a story of evolution, a story of freedom.  And it's a story of stuffing a genie back into its bottle. Yes, I speak of the ancient enterprise battle royale:  Productivity vs. Control. These battles are constantly happening throughout the enterprise, usually with very good intentions.  But, like so many good intentions, they often pave the road to, um...

Gusty winds and 14 degree temperatures are apparently no match for pizza, beer and code. Around fifteen people braved the frozen tundra of Chicago last week to hang out at the Flex.io office for the latest Chicago MySQL Users Group meetup.  All kinds of folks from the local data community were represented – from DBAs to data scientists to BI consultants to data quality engineers. After some time talking tech whilst sipping beverages, we were treated to a presentation by Arfon Smith of GitHub.  Arfon is an astrophysicist by training, an entrepreneur...

Recently, we've been seeing a lot of news about the promise of emerging applications for machine vision. Much of it's at the trial stage at this point, particularly with Google Glass and related projects.  For instance, the police in Dubai are testing facial recognition on the streets, ER doctors are exploring uses for quick access to critical medical records and Walgreens is experimenting with augmented reality in stores. Even the mantis shrimp is getting in on the action!  By mimicking their incredible eyes, researchers are developing a camera that makes it possible to see...

It seems that implementing stronger security standards is not without risk.  As the New York Times recently noted, Apple’s move to add full disk encryption to iOS 8 and remove any built-in backdoors has not won kudos from the N.S.A. and F.B.I.: The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities. This development has already generated some interesting commentary in legal circles.  Cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr calls it, “Apple’s...