This is a little research project designed to experiment with structured data, the web as texture and publishing/authoring tables of data.
It's pretty simple. It looks like this:
Electric Tables works by taking a URL, extracting some key data and adding it to a table.
It works by using a bookmarklet and local storage. So there's no login and no database in V0.1.
Simply click it on a page you want to save and you'll see something like this:
Notice how it extracts key information automatically? Neat. When we try it on a Target page for example notice how it grabs the price automatically?
Or, when we try it on a recipe page it grabs the ingredients automatically:
Try it yourself by dragging this bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar: + Electric Tables
- You can add notes against every item in the table. Just click in the "notes" cell and type
- You can move items from one table to another by editing the hidden "table_id" field
- Don't use this for anything important (yet) - it's still being tinkered with...
- If you're curious - all the code is here
- Desktop only right now (because of the bookmarklet/localstorage)
- That's pretty much it!
When a page is saved, it'll try and grab structured data from the page such as:
- Basics like: URL, title, open graph image
- Schema data like: price, address
- It'll even grab the ingredients from recipes!
- It'll also save any text you have highlighted on the page into a "selection" field!
Note, because of technical reasons (content security policies) some sites (e.g. Twitter, Airbnb) will add to Electric Tables, but in a new tab instead of using a pop-up.
If you find examples of pages that you'd like to extract data from shoot me a note, the code is very simple to add new data extraction rules!
A personal database
Electric Tables started as a lightning fast way to grab URLs and convert them into simple structured data. It's faster than copy and paste! It's faster than opening a spreadsheet!
Think use cases like making a list of potential birthday gifts, or a list of books to read.
However after building the prototype it becomes obvious that more robust storage is interesting. You might want to keep a table around for a long time. You might want to search across them. Kind of like a personal database for exploring URLs of all kinds.
So maybe the magic here is in extracting structured data, or maybe the magic is creating a searchable archive of URLs?
Why is this interesting? (is this interesting?)
I think there's something interesting here but it's also just a little prototype. You could easily imagine in the future:
- Saving items to an actual database, which opens up: login, sharing and collaborating on tables and more
- In particular once you have a server fetching the URLs you can beef up the scraping powers, re-crawl URLs etc
- Could this be a useful tool for *saving* AND publishing data? What if you can make a table available as a json endpoint?
- What about making it easier to add data in bulk - either pasting a list of URLs or fetching an API endpoint?
But I'm curious - what do YOU find interesting or compelling here?
Shoot me your thoughts (and screenshots of your Eletric Tables!)
Much love, @tomcritchlow