Visualize data collections to make more actionable business decisions with MongoDB Compass and Mapbox
We wanted to make it super easy for our users to see and explore their location data on an interactive map. With Mapbox we got started very quickly, your APIs did everything we needed them to do, and our customers are very satisfied.
Our friends at MongoDB offer a next-generation database that helps businesses harness the power of data. MongoDB’s open-source platform is a leading modern database on the market, with over 30 million downloads and over 4,300 customers. Last year, we partnered with MongoDB to give users the ability to visualize location data inside MongoDB Compass, a GUI for analyzing and understanding the content of MongoDB data collections and performing queries to make more actionable business decisions. With Compass + Mapbox, you can build and execute sophisticated spatial queries visualized on a Mapbox map.
We caught up with Sam Weaver, Product Manager at MongoDB, to get his thoughts on developing Compass, how he used Mapbox to facilitate exploring data on maps, and also gathered his advice for others looking to build data visualization tools.
Can you describe MongoDB Compass in a few words?
Imagine Compass as the GUI for MongoDB. Two years ago, anybody using MongoDB would be interacting with MongoDB through the command line interface. We wanted to give users an easier way to interact with their data so we developed a graphical desktop client called Compass. Compass allows users to easily point-and-click to navigate, understand and manipulate their data as well as manage things like indexes and validation rules.
How has Mapbox helped in letting your users visualize that location data?
A lot of people store location data in MongoDB. FourSquare, for example, was one of the first MongoDB users, and organizations like Bosch Software Innovations use MongoDB to manage and monitor IoT devices. Before Compass, you’d be interacting with that data and seeing it as (geographic) coordinates via the shell. But unless you had a really good idea which coordinates mapped to which cities in the world you’d basically be looking at numbers on a screen that may not mean much to you. With Compass, we wanted to visualize those coordinates on a map and show people their data more clearly – “Look, here is that address object you had stored and those coordinates map to this particular point.” So it’s suddenly not just numbers on a screen, but now a nice visualization that lets you see, “oh this person is in New York City or this person is in London.” Whatever data is being referenced suddenly becomes much easier to digest when you understand visually what it’s talking about.
When did you first hear about Mapbox and why did you decide to go with us?
We did a search for map providers online and found Mapbox. We looked at your APIs and found they did everything they needed to do. Your visualizations looked great, the price was reasonable, and you were excellent at working to get all the terms that we needed into our Enterprise contract. Our clients have very specific needs for protecting their data and we needed to make sure that you handled private information well. You were very accommodating in ensuring we could put additional privacy terms into our contract and, ultimately, as we’ve been working with you, any time we’ve had support issues you’ve been responsive and great on supporting our SLA.
Can you share a bit more about your roadmap and how you’re looking to expand the use of Mapbox?
Our customers have been using our geolocation features in Compass to great effect. For example, a large US online platform for buying and selling property is using Compass and Mapbox for internal testing to view all the houses for sale in a particular location. There are many features that the MongoDB database supports that we are yet to build into Compass. We could take the user experience with maps in Compass to the next level by building geo-near queries, for example, “show me restaurants (or other points of interest) near me, or near an area I’m interested in.”
We are also launching a new product called MongoDB Charts to help users build compelling charts or visualizations of their data. It’s all about doing the kind of analysis usually done in spreadsheets but now in MongoDB so that people can jump in, interact with their data, and choose whatever properties they want to visualize. Charts is coming out in Spring 2018.
If someone came to you asking about how to build tools for data visualization, what advice would you give them about getting started?
We had a bunch of core questions we needed to answer when starting this project: Can we get started quickly? Are we paying the right amount or can we build this ourselves for less? Does your product do what we need it to do? Are the APIs sufficient to meet our needs?” We wanted to make it super easy for our users to see and explore their location data on maps. With Mapbox we got started very quickly, your APIs did everything we needed them to do, and our customers are very satisfied. In short, don’t be afraid of using SaaS data visualization tools because most of the problems you think you’ll encounter aren’t actually problems.
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