Data

wattenberg edited this page Sep 14, 2010 · 7 revisions

DATA IMPORT

We currently support three data formats. All rely on a grid structure for your data, so you typically would have a column for start date, a column for end dates if present, and columns for other related data. All our current importers expected a “header row” at the beginning; in other words, the first row of the grid is interpreted as names of columns.

Note that importing data can be a delicate process. TimeFlow provides feedback at every step, but it’s a good practice to scan any imported data for errors or oddities. We have also found that viewing data in TimeFlow often exposes errors that had been in the data for a long time but had not been seen!

Current import options are:


  • paste from spreadsheet/HTML page. You can cut and paste from either an Excel grid or an HTML table. Note that if your Excel file includes long text fields with line breaks and quotes, you should check the results of your import carefully: Excel’s format can actually be ambiguous in certain situations.

  • import CSV file

  • import TSV file

Did mistakes happen? If the program has trouble understanding (“parsing”) the data, it will create a special error column holding values that gave it trouble. You can then sort and search this column like any other to scan for problems.

Limitation: if your database has more than 20,000 rows, you may run into problems. Also, once your database has more than a few thousand rows, you may experience noticeable delays when loading.

EDITING


You can edit your data in many ways! Rows can be editing in several of the views:

  • Timeline and Calendar Right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) on any item to bring up a menu that lets you edit or delete it. You also can right-click at an empty point to create a new item at that time.

  • List The blue “EDIT” links next to items bring up an editing window.

  • Table Double-click on any cell to edit directly in the table itself.

  • Notes This view lets you edit the description field associated to each database.

The Edit menu also provides options for editing the source field, rearrange field order, and deleting and adding fields.


STARTING FROM SCRATCH


You can create a new database in several ways. The “New…” option in the File menu creates a completely blank database; you’ll then have to use the “Add Field..” menu option to add fields. You also can create a database with the same set of fields as an existing one, or use “New From Template” to create one with basic fields.

DATA FIELDS


TimeFlow supports five types of data fields:
  • text
  • lists: compilations of comma-separated text values
  • URLs
  • numbers: European style numbers are not supported (e.g. 2.000,00 is not supported)
  • dates: a variety of formats are supported (having dashes, slashes, all numbers, numbers with words in English for months, etc.) Years are always required. Hours aren’t required but, when present, are supported in a 24-hour clock. European style dates (with days before months) are not supported (e.g. 08/02/2010 is interpreted as August 2, 2010)