A useful tool for creating a search interface for your data: freeDive

Here’s a solution to a problem that aspiring data journalists have come up against time and time again: how to quickly create a searchable interface to your dataset.

freeDive is quick and – if you can follow the wizard‘s instructions – easy too.

If you have a dataset that you want people to be able to search or filter, publish it on Google Docs, copy part of the URL into freeDive when it asks you for it, then decide which fields you want people to be able to see, and how they can search, or filter their search.

At the end you’re given some script which is the most likely point of struggle for some users. If you use a WordPress.com blog then it won’t work – and even a self-hosted WordPress blog will require the installation and activation of a plugin (helpfully linked on the freeDive site) and following those instructions (if you don’t know how to use custom fields check out the explanations here and here).

If you’ve tried it on Blogger or another platform, let me know about it.

Meanwhile, here’s a test of the interface in action – the technology is still in ‘alpha’ so expect some bugginess.

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