Flatsheet supported by Knight Prototype Fund

Today the Knight Foundation announced the latest cohort of grantees in the Knight Prototype Fund, and Flatsheet is one of the projects!

With this grant I’ll be focused on improving the experience of inputting, validating, and revising data. It’ll be a chance to experiment with editing loosely-structured tabular data using approaches beyond a simple spreadsheet-style grid editor – an opportunity to ask questions like “how might we make data input simple and pleasant instead of mind-numbingly boring.”

Human-centered design

The grant kicked off with a weekend-long human-centered design workshop at the LUMA Institute, where I learned more about sticky notes than I ever expected to learn. There were a lot of sticky notes. And I joke about the sticky notes, but it was a really great workshop.

I used the weekend as a chance to think about Flatsheet as if it were a new project. If I were to start from scratch, what assumptions would I test, who would I interview and do user-testing with, and what approach would I take with Flatsheet’s user interface?

My goal for the next few months is to take what I learned from that workshop and attempt to answer the above questions, iterating on user interface improvements and new features.

Next steps

Here’s a rough outline of what’s in store for Flatsheet development over the next few months:

User testing

  • usability & features of editor
  • using Flatsheet with other tools
  • building a simple app with Flatsheet data
  • using presentation templates

Editor improvements

  • alternate editing modes
  • UI components for input & validation of specific data types
  • UI improvements based on feedback from user testing

Improve JSON API

  • Provide GeoJSON when data includes lat/long or standard GeoJSON features
  • Provide CSV endpoint

Presentation templates

  • Map, table, list views of data
  • sheetsee.js
  • tarbell
  • dat

Documentation

  • How to use the UI
  • API documentation – both json & javascript APIs
  • Guides for building projects with Flatsheet

Get involved

Interested in helping with the development of Flatsheet? You can find the code at github.com/flatsheet, and you can ask questions or start discussions about the project in general at github.com/flatsheet/discussions/issues.

Could your team benefit from using Flatsheet to manage information? We’ll be doing a number of user-testing sessions over the next few months, and are looking for participants. Email hi@flatsheet.io for more information.