1 November, 2018

Datasheet server is a Node server that allows data in a spreadsheet to be both dynamically modified and also robustly consumable as an API at the same time. We use spreadsheets extensively to keep track of information during our investigations, and we often want to make this data available via structured queries to make it available in a frontend web application, a game engine, or another use case. Querying data directly from spreadsheets is brittle, as it relies on the maintenance of a rigid structure in the sheets at all times. By putting Datasheet Server as a proxy that sits in between source sheets and their consumers, it is possible to dynamically modify sheets without breaking applications. A data admin can then use Datasheet Server to ensure that applications always receive eligible data, without foregoing the spreadsheets as sources of truth.

We are using Datasheet Server internally across a range of investigations. Its most regular use is in tandem with TimeMap, the two of which together essentially allow researchers to construct case-specific interactive maps using only spreadsheets. We are also using it to channel spreadsheet information in a more structured format to game engines such as Unity.

We do not yet recommend using Datasheet Server in production, but we do highly recommend that you check out the repository on GitHub. There are many ways that one can contribute to an open source project: don't worry if you are not a skilled programmer!

If you have any questions or just want to chat, please join our public Discord server.