Comma Chameleon at csv,conf,v2

Having co-organized csv,conf,v2 this past May, a few of us from Open Knowledge International had the awesome opportunity to travel to Berlin and sit in on a range of fascinating talks on the current state-of-the-art on wrangling messy data. One such talk was given by Stuart Harrison of the Open Data Institute (ODI) who presented on tool he is developing called Comma Chameleon. Comma Chameleon is a desktop CSV editor with validation magic 🌟.

Stuart Harrison

Comma Chameleon

CSV is a great, simple format that is easy to publish and use by technical and non-technical users alike. But CSV can also be abused (see Bad Data for examples), leading Stuart and his team at ODI Labs—the R&D team at ODI—to develop Comma Chameleon. Comma Chameleon is a desktop tool that uses CSVLint under the hood to validate CSVs for their structural integrity as well as their adherence to a schema specified in JSON Table Schema (CSV on the Web support in progress).

Comma Chameleon

The point of Comma Chameleon is to give non-technical users the ability to create and edit CSV files in a more appropriate tool than Excel, software designed for manipulating spreadsheets first and foremost. The app allows users to fix errors in their data in place before publishing using the handy validation functions described above. Comma Chameleon also allows users to add useful metadata—for instance, a title, description, and a license—and export it all as a zipped Data Package.

Frictionless Data

Comma Chameleon—built with Electron—is an excellent example of the kind of tool that can provide the foundation for real advances in data quality thanks to adherence to a few simple, open standards. At Open Knowledge International, we are currently working hard on Frictionless Data, an initiative to define and promote just such tools and standards. We are delighted to be partnering with the ODI in the coming months on this and other initiatives around Frictionless Data.

See Stuart’s full talk: