Last year, we discovered VQL: an online tool that lets non-engineers analyze massive databases. At that time Jason Strauss, the creator of that tool and the founder of VQL as a company, said that it was aimed at “people who have data and don’t know what to do with it.”
As it turned out, VQL didn’t entirely meet the needs of its target audience.
“We have more and more people coming to us and saying: ‘We have data: What’s a database?,'” Strauss said in an interview with BostInno.
So, the MIT alumnus invented another online tool that performs data analytics and can be used with a few clicks instead of a master’s degree in data science. The main difference with VQL is that CSV Explorer – this is the name of Strauss’ new product – doesn’t need a database to be launched. Instead, all people need to get information from their data is a CSV file, or “comma-separated value” file.
CSV files are an extremely common format of the file for spreadsheets — the bread and butter of Microsoft Excel. Usually, people download this type of spreadsheets from public sources or they’re provided with them from private customers. Finance teams who wants to see the monthly sales of their company, consultants who perform research for clients, lawyers and officers trying to write reports for local governments, even investigative journalists willing to make sense of public data. All of these people need to get answers from a file that may have, potentially, millions of rows.
Uploading the file on CSV Explorer may require a few minutes, but the speed depends on the quality of the Internet connection. After the file has been incorporated into the system, users can perform analytics and see the relative graphics version in a matter of minutes.
In the case of a CSV file containing, for example, bike rides in New York City, users can ask for the numbers of rides started in a specific location by just typing “Central Park” in the right search bar, as Jason shows in this video below.
Strauss said that since he launched the product four weeks ago, more than one billion rows of files have been uploaded on CSV Explorer. Interestingly, the company said that more and more customers have been redirected on its website thanks to Google searches of “How do I open a big CSV file?”
Everything is encrypted on CSV Explorer, Strauss said, but he added that many customers reach out to him to ask for help, and therefore he may have the opportunity to see the data they’re working with.
As for the pricing, there four monthly plans to use CSV Explorer. For files with up to 50,000 rows, it’s available for free. “Maybe we’ll add a day pass,” Strauss said.