Factual Launches Open Data Platform, Including API

Adam DuVander
Nov. 06 2009, 12:21AM EST

Structured data has an open platform, thanks to a new startup aptly named Factual. At first glance, it seems like Excel on the web. However, Factual is more database-oriented, with joining and filtering built-in. Plus, sharing and discussing the data is an integral part of the experience. Most functions on the site, including both reading and writing data, can also happen via the Factual API.

Founder Gil Elbaz announced Factual's launch:

"Today, we are announcing the beta launch of Factual, a platform where anyone can share and mash open data on any subject. Factual provides smart tools to help the community build and maintain a trusted source of structured data so everyone can make better decisions. Users can contribute data and get deeper data on a particular subject, publishers can add free content to their site with embeddable tables to enhance the end user experience, and developers can customize tables and create new applications using the Factual API."

There are a handful of fun datasets already, such as American Idol finalists (embedded below) and a little peak into Factual's employees.

Some have noted a similarity between Factual and Wolfram Alpha, which also has a new API. SearchEngineLand explains the difference:

"Unlike Wolfram Alpha, which is a closed system with data "curated" by employees, Factual has adopted a Wikipedia-like model which allows anyone to create, structure or even edit data in Factual tables. Elbaz hopes this open model will encourage community participation, enabling Factual to grow rapidly and enjoy widespread adoption."

As part of the open model, Factual allows both reading and writing to its API. Also, unlike Wolfram Alpha, Factual's API is free for developers.

Factual joins our list of 20+ database APIs. Among the most similar services are community-generated Freebase and Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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