home > guide: how to browse datasets

The Browse facility provides a structured view with filtering capabilities for the records in the system. Browse is generally accessed as a result of a site search or via various browse tabs located on many pages throughout the system.

When Browse is invoked, you get a listing of matching records and a top portion of the screen that allows you to further select and filter via these categories:

  • Datasets (or sources) - the basic way of organizing and inputting data to NOW
  • Categories - similar types or kinds of things, such as bus stops v schools v golf courses, and
  • Attributes - characteristics (the actual data) for these various types of things.

When you invoke the Browse function, you see this basic page layout:

Main Browse Screen

Working from top to bottom, the Browse function has some of these notable features:

  • Pagination if the record count exceeds 10
  • A listing of the total number of results for the current selection, and which ones are presently being displayed
  • Tabs for the major selection (filtering) options available -- which are explained a bit more below -- and a tab for exporting the currently selected results in multiple formats
  • Depending on the tab, a selection panel within which the individual items by type can be selected (filtered) by checkbox
  • Then, the listing of actual results, with each record showing a number of different attributes and values depending on the kind of information in the record. Each record concludes with the source (dataset) to which it belongs.

In the example above, artificially shortened for space reasons, three different records are shown, each from a different dataset and each with a different set of attributes and associated values.

This mixing of information types is common in Browse results; it is always good to look at the Source entry and then at the actual attributes to see these differences.

By default, no filter selections means that all records that met the starting conditions (which could have been under a specific menu focus or as a result of a search) are initially listed. In the case above, the Browse is the result of a search for "school"; the results count of 441 reflects this starting condition.

Upon this base example of some 441 results we can then begin to filter down our listing for more specific results. One first filter we can apply is for schools that are classified either as community faciilities or organizations, as this screen capture shows:

Browse: Filter by Kind

Note that the number of results drops to 322 and the search box now automatically switches to Filter(s) mode from All.

Then, we can apply further filters, now based on attributes. In the example below, we are restricting our results to only those records that have data for number of teachers and number of students:

Browse: Filter by Attribute

The result count now drops further to some 295 records.

These filters may be switched on or off to restrict or expand your results set as desired. This winnowing is particularly helpful for honing in within larger results sets. One can also do further searches within the current results set displayed if desired.

After doing this inspection and refinement, if you want to save and export the resulting data for offline use or analysis, you can use the Export tab, which provides a choice of various output formats. In this example, we choose the JSON (JavaScript object notation) format:

Browse Export

Upon confirming the file name and saving it to your local computer, you can then use these data files in appropriate applications. Here is the example output of our export, but shortened to only include one record for space reasons:

Exported JSON