Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Transformy just got better

It’s been awhile since we posted an update, but we wanted to have something real to show you. And now we have.

Over the past few months, we’ve made Transformy better. Gradually, slowly, but definitely better. Today we feel like we owe you some more details, because the improvements are made possible by the continuous feedback and usage statistics you provide us with. So thanks for that!

When we launched Transformy, the tool was more like a prototype than an actual product. Despite the primitive capabilities, it has helped a lot of you every day to get your data munging and wrangling done without too much hassle.

But due to the limited capabilities of the prototype, sometimes you hit a wall. Today we’ve upgraded our algorithm, to deal way better with variations between your source lines.

Let’s explain with an example, because that’s the Transformy way. Suppose we extracted the following dump from the web service of our CRM suite. We get our contact names and their birthday. Of course, we’ve minimized it for the sake of the example, we hope your CRM contains more info.

{"name": "John Ismael", born: "1965-08-24"},
{"name": "Aaron Michell Runebergh", born: "1981-04-16"},
{"name": "Kaylee Richardson", born: "1976-09-02"},

Great, but we need it in a CSV format, because that’s what our visualization tool expects. Also, let’s drop the month and day from the birthday, as they’re not relevant for this report anyway.

So let’s just give the example and be done with it!

John Ismael, 1965

Previous versions of Transformy would output the following result.

John Ismael, 1965
Aaron Michell, born
Kaylee Richardson, 1976

Why is that? The algorithm did not take into account the variation happening in the second line; Aaron Michell Runebergh is composed out of 3 words rather than the 2 words of John Ismael used in the example line. Transformy got confused by this and was unable to properly align the source lines, making it miss the 3rd name and misinterpreting the year. That’s bad.

Luckily, the new algorithm is way better at this. It will take the structure of every line into account to make an educated guess at the alignment. In this case, it will understand that the name is composed out of 3 words and properly align them with the 2 words of the example name, resulting in the desired output:

John Ismael, 1965
Aaron Michell Runebergh, 1981
Kaylee Richardson, 1976

Next to the changes under the hood, we’ve also added minor usability improvements. It’s now possible to copy the result to the clipboard with one button. To help us further improve Transformy, you can also signal whether the result is what you expect, all in one mouse click. So check it out!

These improvements are only the beginning. Expect a lot of improvements over the coming weeks and months. So please, keep providing us with feedback. What’s working, but more importantly, what isn’t? How would you like to use Transformy? What are your most painful data wrangling tasks?

1 comment:

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