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Last time I wrote it was to solicit ideas for PANDA’s API. We’ve since implemented those ideas, and we’ve just released our third alpha, which includes a complete writable API, demo scripts showing how to import from three different data sources, and the ability to import data from Excel spreadsheets.

The PANDA project aims to make basic data analysis quick and easy for news organizations, and make data sharing simple.

Try Alpha 3 now.

Hello, Write API

Our new write API is designed to be as simple and consistent as possible. We’ve gone to great lengths to illustrate how it works in our new API documentation. We’ve also provided three example scripts showing how to populate PANDA with data from:

Using these scripts as a starting point, any programmer with a little bit of Python knowledge should be able to easily import data from an SQL database, local file or any other arcane data source they can conjure up in the newsroom.

Excel support

Also included in this release is support for importing from Excel .xls and .xlsx files. It’s difficult to promise that this support will work for every Excel file anyone can find to throw at it, but we’ve had good results with files produced from both Windows and Mac versions of Excel, as well as from OpenOffice on Mac and Linux.

Our Alpha 4 release will be coming at the end of January, followed quickly by Beta 1 around the time of NICAR. To see what we have planned, check out our Release schedule.