Well, with Tabletop.js, you don’t. The other great thing about using Tabletop.js is that a lot more people know how to use a Google spreadsheet than know how to enter records into a database. You can share responsibility for updating your web app with anyone who knows how to use Google Docs, or use Google Forms to let members of the public add new records to a list.
Chris Keller wired up Tabletop.js to a nifty sortable, searchable, and nicely styled web-based data table, which I use here to create a sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where I live. I decided to do that because I live in Watertown, Massachusetts. Until recently, very few people outside of eastern Massachusetts knew about Watertown — where it was, what it looked like, what happened there. That was before the Tsarnaev brothers led police on a car chase through my town, culminating in a gunfight and explosions.
So I thought I’d do my latest plunge into civic data by creating a data table showing all the law enforcement agencies in my county, how many full time police officers per 1,000 residents each police department has, and the population of each city or town. (College police departments are also represented in this table. I thought about taking them out, until I remembered that Sean Collier, the 26 year old police officer who died, was a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)). You can see the table here: Sortable, searchable table of law enforcement agencies, Middlesex County, MA.
I’m a noob, and I had a tough time getting my mind around Tabletop.js, but it was worth it. Also, once I finally got it to work…I happened to be wearing my “Watertown Strong” t-shirt. Coincidence? Nah.
Now that I’ve got it working, I’ll be creating another Absurdly Illustrated Tutorial for those of you who want to try out Tabletop.js. If you’d like to see my other tutorials, see: