Formatting data is a necessary pain, so anything that makes formatting easier is always welcome. Data Wrangler, from the Stanford Visualization Group, is the latest in the growing set of tools to get your data the way you need it (so that you can get to the fun part already). It’s similar to Google Refine in that they’re both browser-based, but my first impression is that Data Wrangler is more lightweight and it feels more responsive.
Data Wrangler also seems to do more guesswork, so you can set less specific parameters. Just roll over stuff, and it’ll show a preview of possible changes or formatting. Keep the change or easily undo it.
The video below describes what all the tool can do, but it’s better to just try it out. Copy and paste your own mangled data or give Data Wrangler a whirl with the sample provided.
I’d be interested to hear what the Google Refine users think of Data Wrangler. I never got the hang of it and seem to always end up writing code rather than learn my way around the menus and clicks. I think I’ll be coming back to this one though.