Monday, March 18, 2013

New Feature: Get OData Output From FlatMerge

We've added OData output through FlatMerge. Now if you have a rectangular data file you have OData too! This is an addition to the current output formats of plain XML and JSON.

We'll be doing a series of posts about the many cool things you can do with this new feature. Today, we demonstrate the usefulness of OData and FlatMerge by loading some data into Excel 2013 directly from a FlatMerge URL.

Since earthquake data is so interesting, we've grabbed the freshest earthquake data from (, and uploaded it to FlatMerge (You can upload data for free to FlatMerge too!)

To get OData from FlatMerge, use the proper HTTP Accept header, like this
Accept: application/atom+xml
or add the querystring parameter &format=odata

Excel automatically does this (adds the Accept header) when you choose to add OData. So, to import FlatMerge OData into Excel:

1. Go to the FlatMerge details page of the data you've uploaded or are interested in and copy the OData URL as circled in red in the above image.  Open Excel and navigate to Data->From Other Sources->From OData Feed (or PowerPivot->Manage->Get External Data->From Data Service->From OData Data Feed), and paste that URL into the Location Field.

2. Select the one and only table listing. This is the original file name that was uploaded to FlatMerge.

3. Click Next and save the connection if you'd like. Select how to view the data (we've only tested with Table) and where to put it.

4. Data is imported! (Depending on the size of your data, this may take just a second, or hours).

Please try it out and let us know how you like it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What's in my data?

One of the coolest things about FlatMerge is that it tells you types and lengths of your data. We're relying heavily on this feature as we build in dynamic OData output (coming soon!). So, browsing around, we found some interesting raw data about Congressional campaign expenditures

Loading this data into FlatMerge ( shows some interesting things...

The description of the data on says that ZIP Code (can_zip) is 5 digits.

FlatMerge found some ZIP codes to be 9 digits... is this ZIP+4?

Also, it seems strange that the Candidate Incumbent Challenger Open Seat (can_inc_cha_ope_sea) field indicates that it is a 10 character field, but has an explanation for some letter abbreviations.

Turns out, the explanation of the abbreviated data is not needed, because the data contains the full text.


So, the documentation does not exactly match what's truly in the data.