Simon Willison’s Weblog


Datasette is 5 today: a call for birthday presents

13th November 2022

Five years ago today I published the first release of Datasette, in Datasette: instantly create and publish an API for your SQLite databases.

Five years, 117 releases, 69 contributors, 2,123 commits and 102 plugins later I’m still finding new things to get excited about with th project every single day. I fully expect to be working on this for the next decade-plus.

Datasette is the ideal project for me because it can be applied to pretty much everything that interests me—and I’m interested in a lot of things!

I can use it to experiment with GIS, explore machine learning data, catalog cryptozoological creatures and collect tiny museums. It can power blogs and analyze genomes and figure out my dog’s favourite coffee shop.

The official Datasette website calls it “an open source multi-tool for exploring and publishing data”. This definitely fits how I think about the project today, but I don’t know that it really captures my vision for its future.

In “x for y” terms I’ve started thinking of it as Wordpress for Data.

Wordpress powers 39.5% of the web because its thousands of plugins let it solve any publishing problem you can think of.

I want Datasette to be able to do the same thing for any data analysis, visualization, exploration or publishing problem.

There’s still so much more work to do!

Call for birthday presents

To celebrate this open source project’s birthday, I’ve decided to try something new: I’m going to ask for birthday presents.

An aspect of Datastte’s marketing that I’ve so far neglected is social proof. I think it’s time to change that: I know people are using the software to do cool things, but this often happens behind closed doors.

For Datastte’s birthday, I’m looking for endorsements and case studies and just general demonstrations that show how people are using it do so cool stuff.

So: if you’ve used Datasette to solve a problem, and you’re willing to publicize it, please give us the gift of your endorsement!

How far you want to go is up to you:

  • Not ready or able to go public? Drop me an email. I’ll keep it confidential but just knowing that you’re using these tools will give me a big boost, especially if you can help me understand what I can do to make Datasette more useful to you
  • Add a comment to this issue thread describing what you’re doing. Just a few sentences is fine—though a screenshot or even a link to a live instance would be even better
  • Best of all: a case study—a few paragraphs describing your problem and how you’re solving it, plus permission to list your logo as an organization that uses Datasette. The most visible social proof of all!

I thrive on talking to people who are using Datasette, so if you want to have an in-person conversation you can sign up for a Zoom office hours conversation on a Friday.

I’m also happy to accept endorsements in replies to these posts on Mastodon or on Twitter.

Here’s to the next five years of Datasette. I’m excited to see where it goes next!

This is Datasette is 5 today: a call for birthday presents by Simon Willison, posted on 13th November 2022.

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