I've been having conversations recently with people (Steve Davenport, Owen Barder, Tim Davies, Neil Fantom) about toolsets to help people make better use of IATI datasets. While XML is an extremely powerful format for holding complex structured and hierarchical data, it has a fairly high barrier of entry for people trying to do simple things with the data.
- Developers need an advanced knowledge of XSL, or a combination of programming and XPath, to pull out even simple lists of data ("give me all the project titles and IDs in a list"). Pulling out more complex information ("give me all transactions from projects currently active") are more challenging.
- Many developers work best with simple tabular data in CSV format, rather than the hierarchy supported by XML. Common toolsets (such as Google Spreadsheets) will prefer CSV
- For more advanced queries, it may be simpler to import the IATI XML into a database (something like SQLite or MySQL).
To address these issues, how about the following toolsets?
- Provides CSV outputs for basic information on a dataset: for example list activities with total budget/spend figures, list all transactions by activity.
- Would allow direct import into Google Apps for charting and other analysis
- Similar to CSV converter but outputs unordered lists for use within web pages.
Database import tools
- Import IATI structured data into a SQLite/MySQL database for further querying.
- Common structure for IATI activity files to allow sharing of queries across donors.
What other ideas do you have?