Do you have an Excel file with information that you would like to publish on the Internet or share with co-workers? Maybe addresses you want to put into a map? A directory of partners and contacts? Or just a gallery of your favorite restaurants? For free?
Then you might like Silk. Silk is a data publishing platform that lets you convert a spreadsheet into a live interactive site. Silk takes each row on your spreadsheet and converts it into a standalone Web page (we call it a datacard). Then Silk allows you to build maps, charts, tables, and image galleries using the spreadsheet information stored in each datacard.
For example, here I’ve used Silk to turn a spreadsheet with headphone information into a site with interactive tables and graphs.
ExcelZoom.com was kind enough to allow us to explain Silk in this guest post and provide a quick user guide. I’ll show you how to prepare your spreadsheet for import into Silk, import options and then how to build visualizations.
Preparing your sheet for import into Silk
Silk will convert every row in your spreadsheet into a Webpage (datacard). You need to select one of the columns on your spreadsheet for the titles of your datacards. The information in the other columns will also show up on each datacard page in a table we call the factsheet. For import Silk requires a “flat” spreadsheet – no nested cells and no merged cells. You need to put a title in the first row of every column you are using – no blank rows. (See this tutorial on preparing your spreadsheet for Silk for more information.)
Importing your sheet into Silk
Now sign up for Silk. All that you need is an email and to pick a password. Next you’ll need to name your Silk. Then you can elect to take a quick tutorial or jump right into the import. To do the import:
- Find the ‘Add a new collection’ menu at the bottom of your screen.
- Click on the ‘Upload Spreadsheet’ box.
- Drag the Excel file you wish to upload into the drop box.
- Or use the ‘Paste spreadsheet’ option to copy and paste the columns from your spreadsheet into the importer box.
After you click ‘Import’, you will get a preview of how your datacards will appear in Silk.
- Browse through the datacards by clicking the arrows.
- Select which column you want to use as the title for each datacard.
- Specify the “Collection” these datacards will go into. Collections hold together related datacards on a Silk. It’s best to change the collection name to something descriptive. We used ‘Headphones’ in this example.
- Start the import.
If the preview looks good, click the blue “Import” button to convert your spreadsheet into a Silk site.
- When your import is completed, Silk will automatically analyze your data and place you into the “Explore” tab (this is where you can build visualization and explore the data). Silk will suggest a visualization.
- You can accept the visualization suggestion or pick a different one from the visualization ribbon. Silk offers 14 different types including maps, charts, tables, lists and galleries.
- You can change the contents of your visualizations by adding or removing tags (tag = column) or adding inline filters. (Further editing options can be found by clicking the ‘More Options’ button.)
- To publish the visualization to your Silk’s home page, click the green ‘Publish this visualization’ button.
- To further edit your homepage, click click the ‘+’ anywhere on the page. Then you can choose from the menu to add more visualizations as well as blocks of text, images, YouTube videos and other media.
- Or you can click the ‘Explore’ tab again create more visualizations from inside Explore.
For more detailed information, see our spreadsheet tutorial, we now created our Silk. The spreadsheet in this example was filled with information about headphones, and was used to create headphones.silk.co. You can now share the Silk so anyone can compare and visualize the data. You can let the Silk stay public, but you can also make it private if you wish. Better yet, you can allow anyone to edit the Silk, turning your Silk into a community project.
That’s it! If you like to learn more about Silk, you can participate in our webinar series, which will start on July 22nd, 12-1 pm EDT / 9-10am PDT. If you want examples of cool Silks, check out our home page, and don’t hesitate to send us an email if you have any questions. Attach your spreadsheet if you’re having trouble. We’d love to help anyone create a nice Silk. Thanks for reading!