Swivel's API Lets You Mashup Business Data

Raymond Yee
Aug. 05 2008, 03:55AM EDT

Swivel, along with its cousin IBM Research's Many Eyes, is helping make sharing, visualizing, and discussing data on the web fun and addictive. How? Take, for example, the following Swivel-hosted graph, which shows the Growth of Creative Commons Photos on Flickr to millions of photos:

Growth of Creative Commons Photos on Flickr (millions of photos)

The data, which originally comes from Jared Benedict's post Creative Commons Photo Growth on Flickr, was imported into Swivel and then turned into a graph of the uploader's choice. Other Swivel users can comment on the graph, copy the data and make their own graphs, or embed Swivel graphs int their websites. The discussion around any given graph is often the most thought-provoking part of Swivel.

The data in the main Swivel site is public. Of course, there's plenty of data that people will want to keep private but which benefit from the same visualization techniques used for public data in Swivel (e.g. your company's revenue figures and projections). Swivel Business was created to provide such a service. You can use Swivel Business for free for public data but have to pay a monthly fee to host private data.

One our newest directory entries is for the new Swivel API, which as they describe, lets you upload, read, and update data for Swivel Business was announced (deleting data is not yet available yet). With this API, one should be able to automatically create new data sets and keep them synchronized with an external data source (such as an internal database.)

Note that this API applies only to Swivel Business and not to the main Swivel site. Moreover, any dataset in Swivel Business must have a date or date/time as the first column -- as opposed to the main Swivel site. Is Swivel's design rationale that the data that business folks would be willing to pay Swivel to process are exclusively time-series data?

I suspect that the feature set of the Swivel Business API will grow and I hope that the API will be extended to the entire site and that Swivel Business will support the full range of data (beyond time series data) that already flourishes on the main site.

Raymond Yee

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also, looks like we had a bit of a documentation mishap -- just wanted to let you know that you actually *can* delete data sets. just do it in the usual RESTful way: DELETE /data_sets/:id.xml ... we've fixed our documentation.

thanks for helping us catch it!