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It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.

Arthur Schopenhauer


It is not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You should also have an open mind at the right time.

Paul Erdös

Friendship needs no words. It is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.

Dag Hammarskjöld

I do not yet know of a man who became a leader as a result of having undergone a leadership course.

Lee Kuan Yew

How to Create a Web Data Connector: A Beginner’s Approach | Tableau Public

Géraldine Zanolli is a Product Consultant at Tableau. She has developped an Instagram Web Data Connectorand is sharing her learnings here.

When I joined Tableau, being a social media addict, in particular an Instagram fan, I wanted to analyse my social media data using Tableau. Come on, it is crucial to know the best time of day to post THIS awesome selfie., I tried to get my Instagram data in Tableau. I googled “Tableau connection to Instagram”, but found no “out of the box” solution. I could not even export the data to Excel. I almost gave up but I then discovered the Web Data Connector option. A Web Data Connector allows you to connect to a world of data that is available over the web.

It was actually the perfect situation to use a Web Data Connector. Tableau does not have a native Instagram connector, Instagram does not have an ODBC (Open Data Connectivity is a standard application interface for accessing database management systems) driver available, so I could not download the data from Instagram into a supported format. But Instagram does have an API that I could utilise to have access to the data using JavaScript.

You should use a Web Data Connector when:

  • Your data is outside of existing connectors
  • Your data source does not have an existing ODBC driver
  • Your data cannot be downloaded into a supported format
  • You want to refresh your data frequently and automatically
  • Your data is accessible with JavaScript

The Tableau community already created many Web Data Connectors for different platforms, and shared them publicly. You can find them here. If you can find one already created, all you need to copy and paste the link into Tableau Desktop to connect to your data. At that time though, I could not find one for Instagram.

Instagram has an API that sends back data in JSON. The first step was to understand the API. I like to compare APIs to barmen.

The barman controls the drinks as the API controls the data. The barman is the only access that you have to the drinks, and the API is the only point of access to your data. The API sends back the data you asked for, in the same way the barman serves you the drinks you want according to their recipes.

I used tools like Postman or JSON formatter (on Google Chrome) to test the API before starting to code. The API has a lot of documentation on which request you can send and the response schema.

After reading some online tutorials and blogs like Tableau Junkie, I understood that a Web Data Connector uses JavaScript and HTML. I rolled up my sleeves, gathered my JavaScript knowledge and downloaded the SDK (a Software Development Kit is a set of software development tools that allows the creation of applications for a certain software package) from the website to start building my own Web Data Connector.

The principle of a Web Data Connector is simple. The HTML part is the user interface, what the user sees when he/she uses it. The JavaScript code connects to web data, reads the JSON response, and then passes the information on to Tableau.

First thing to do to create your own Web Data Connector; you need to get GIT and the WDC SDK. You also need a web server ready to host your WDC, like Tomcat or WAMP.

Once you have fulfilled all the requirements, you can find in the SDK some code samples. My advice is not to start your WDC from scratch, but from a pre-built one. For instance, you can use the earthquake WDC as a template for your custom code.

In the SDK, you also have a simulator that allows you to test your WDC before trying it in Tableau. It is very useful. In order to debug, you can add a debug line console.log().

Once everything works fine in the simulator, you can use it in Tableau.

A question I have often been asked is: how long do I need to develop a Web Data Connector? It really depends on your JavaScript skills and the API you are using. It took me 2 weeks to release the first version of the Instagram Web Data Connector. After this, I had to submit an application to Instagram to have full access to the Instagram content.

My advice: start with an easy API that does not require authentication or an API key. My favourite one is Swapi, the Star Wars API.

As you now understand, I am a social media addict and I use the Facebook and Twitter Web Data Connectors often. As of now, there is no Snapchat WDC yet, but it is one that I would like to develop!

Apart from creating WDCs, I like to play with the data in my free time. I recently created a visualisation using the Instagram WDC for a colleague who is a huge fan of the Kardashians, and this visualisation that looks at Trump’s Instagram:

We not only have social media WDCs, we also have a movies’ one. The next visualisation is using a TMDb – WDC created by my colleague Michele Tessari.

Web Data Connectors are a great option. You can get the value of your data into Tableau. You do not need to be a software engineer to build your own, having “Google developer” skills is enough, once you understand the basics and master your API.

Source: How to Create a Web Data Connector: A Beginner’s Approach | Tableau Public

Bold New Mathematical Cake Designs by Dinara Kasko | Colossal

Tart #4. Streusel, almond sponge cake, cherry confit, yogurt mousse.

Since we last checked in with Dinara Kasko, the Ukrainian pastry chef has continued to innovate at a dizzying pace, further incorporating her use of mathematical algorithms and 3D printing into her baking process. Many of the cake designs begin as a collaboration with mathematicians or sculptors who help develop the patterns she then utilizes to print special molds. The final desserts are interpretations of cakes, tarts, and other fully edible desserts that might look more at home inside an art gallery than on a dinner table.

Kasko now sells a variety of silicone molds on her website so you can try your hand at many of the desserts seen here. You can follow more of her baking experiments on Instagram.

Collaboration with parametric designer Andrej Pavlov.

Composition: streusel, almond cream, confit strawberry – red currant, mousse with white chocolate.

Composition: crunchy layer, sponge cake with dry apricot, cremeux dulcey-apricot, confit apricot-kumquat, mousse dulcey-apricot.

Composition: light sponge cake with candied grapefruit, mousse-meringue with grapefruit, grapefruit slices in syrup and mousse with white chocolate.

“Ball, Cube, Triangle.” Inside: mousse with caramelized white chocolate, blueberry confit, blackcurrant confit, chocolate sponge cake with red currant, berry glaze. For decoration: isomalt and chocolate.

“Voronoi cells with berries.”

Source: Bold New Mathematical Cake Designs by Dinara Kasko | Colossal

The most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself, but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.

Arnold Toynbee