Drake 1.0.1: You Can Use It Now

We’re pleased to announce the release of Drake version 1.0.1. This release is a quick follow-up to the recently released Drake 1.0.0.

The 1.x version of Drake provides easy installation, including a Homebrew recipe for Mac users.

We’ve also included a commemorative logo upgrade, check it out!

Many thanks to @amalloy for his ownership, guidance, and leadership with Drake’s core codebase since he started at Factual.

Many thanks to @mavericklou for taking ownership of specific bugs & features and owning release management. Mav notably added a shiny new install/upgrade script, which makes it dead simple for Linux users to install and upgrade Drake. Mav also took over the Homebrew recipe for Drake and has been keeping it up-to-date.

Thanks to @chen-factual for recently contributing an honest-to-goodness missing feature to Drake, allowing us to better justify this 1.0.1 release. It’s not too hard to ask for a feature, but it takes brave and good people like Chen to actually release a feature.

And as always: A heartfelt thanks to everyone in the community who has contributed bug reports, feature requests, and most awesomely, code contributions and pull requests!

Some background on Drake and project versioning:

Drake (Factual’s data processing workflow tool) was first open sourced by us on January, 24, 2013. It was versioned 0.1.0 at that time. Over time we upgraded Drake and moderately increased the version tag. Two years in we considered Drake “barely famous” and found ourselves at version 0.1.6.

There’s a kind of unwritten rule of humility in the Clojure community around open sourced library versioning. Authors are reluctant to presume too much. As an example, the Leiningen build tool defaults a new project’s version to 0.1.0, but then some authors change that to 0.0.1 as a first step on a new project. Because, you know… let’s not be presumptuous.

Well, I was bragging to Alan about a Drake release, which I was calling 0.2.0. Alan rolled his eyes. He was like, “Considering the conventions put forth by Semantic Versioning, and considering that Drake has been in production at this company as well as other companies for years now, why not call it version 1 already?” I pushed back a bit, by surveying two existing open source Clojure projects I know of:

  1. Aleph, Zach Tellman’s notorious asynchronous library for Clojure, is currently versioned 0.4.x. Keep in mind it’s been in production at Factual and other serious minded shops for years now. I asked Zach when he plans to cut a 1.0.0 and his reply started, “Each minor release has been effectively a ground-up rewrite…”.
  2. Riemann, Kyle Kingsbury’s network event stream processing system written in Clojure, also enjoys prime time adoption in various production environments. And yet it’s versioned 0.2.x. I asked Kyle if he plans to cut a 1.0.0:

    Kyle: Naw, I don’t think it’s 1.0 material yet. :-)
    me: What would it take to justify a 1.0 ??
    Kyle: API stability, a bunch of protocol enhancements, dropping a bunch of deprecated stuff, performance stuff, bunch of bugfixes, disk persistence, maybe determinism & a better stream compiler…
    me: when will the madness end !?
    Kyle: Probably never? Or, like, we could say that a tool may be sufficiently stable for a job while not being finished yet. :-/

Alan was copied on all these emails. He wasn’t convinced, and questioned my motives. “Chesterton’s Fence1!” was my last defense, but it didn’t stand (so to speak). In the end, Alan and Mav outvoted me 2-to-1 for Drake 1.0.0. Plus Artem (Drake’s original designer) was enthusiastic. So we presumptuously bumped Drake’s version to 1.0.0 and cut a release.

Of course I made sure to warn my colleagues: “You should most certainly not use this version of Drake! As a general rule, do not use a version x.0.0 of any product. Sorry, you’ll need to wait for Drake 1.0.1 or whatever…”.

As of today, we’re closing that loop. Drake 1.0.1 has been released, a.k.a. “Drake 1”. Please consider it officially usable and ready for production… if that’s not too presumptuous of us. We hope you like it.

Go make some great workflows!

Aaron Crow
Factual engineer, Drake contributor

1. Thanks to Alan for teaching us about Chesterton’s Fence(s).

Factual Featured Partner: HowLoud

Have you ever moved into a beautiful new apartment only to discover on your first night that you can hear the roar of every plane that lands at a nearby airport? HowLoud is a service to help save you from this nightmare. We spoke with HowLoud Founder Brendan Farrell about how they’re using data to help you identify how noisy a place is before you move in.

Company Name: HowLoud
Located: Los Angeles, CA
Factual Partner Since: 2014
Your Name and Title: Brendan Farrell, Founder
Website: www.howloud.net
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HowLoudInc
Twitter: @HowLoudInc
Kickstarter Sound Map of North America

Q: Introduce readers to HowLoud. What do you do?
A: HowLoud is an information service for noise. Imagine that you’re trying to find a new apartment or house. Before you drive over, HowLoud allows you to type in the address and get a Soundscore™ (our indicator of how loud an area is) and other relevant noise information for that location. That way you can know beforehand what to expect.

An example Soundscore™ for a quiet, residential neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Q: Why is location data important for HowLoud?
A: Our primary engineering work is to model noise from traffic at any point that we want. This really puts us on the micro-level of location information: we are able to differentiate down to specific buildings and homes and even different sides of a home. In addition to this, we look at data on business locations. Restaurants, bars, supermarkets, etc. — all of these places make noise. We use Factual data to identify where these businesses are so we can compute Soundscores™ for each place.

Q: Why did you choose Factual as your location data provider? What Factual products do you use?
A: We chose Factual because it’s so thorough and easy to use. Before we started, I looked at some sample data for a handful of locations I’m familiar with and don’t recall there ever being a missing place.

Q: What was the inspiration for HowLoud?
A: The inspiration was simple: I was looking for a new home and just assumed you could find information on noise somewhere. Then I realized that it wasn’t out there and before I knew it I ended up starting this company.

Q: What are your current goals for HowLoud? Are they different from your original goals?
A: The main goal remains the same: to provide a consumer-oriented and contemporary noise modeling and information source. Cities in the state of California all do noise studies. However, these studies are done according to different state regulations and state boards — they’re not intended for the consumer. You can think of HowLoud as a product for noise that’s analogous to consumer-focused weather services. Today, you can easily type in an address and get the weather information that you care about in your area (it’s sunny and warm right now in Los Angeles), instead of having to read some dense meteorological material. HowLoud can deliver similarly relevant, up to date, and easy to digest information on the sound around a place.

Q: What types of data are important for you to evaluate the sound in an area?
A: The most important component is vehicle traffic. The data that we take in answers: where are the roads, what’s the 3D topography, and what’s the traffic flow? Then, we use models to see how that noise propagates throughout the region. We need lots of detailed information like volume and speed of traffic to do this effectively. Next, we need to understand where the buildings are (partly to see how far they are from the sources of noise and partly because buildings themselves reflect and block sound). In addition we need data on particular businesses and where they are (bars and airports, for example, produce a lot of sound). There are all sorts of other important factors that we plan to incorporate into our models in the future such as weather and geological data, but our primary concern at the moment is refining our traffic models.

Q: What are some unexpected difficulties you’ve encountered while starting HowLoud?
A: There are a lot of mapping services available, but many of the ones we use do not let you easily mix and match with other services. If we are getting some data from one source, we cannot always display it on another map. Learning to work around these constraints has been an interesting challenge.

Q: What is the loudest place you’ve ever lived?
A: I’d say the most recent one was a little unexpected. When I moved into this apartment, I didn’t realize that the people in the front never used their balconies even though the people in the back did. It turns out it’s so loud in the front that it’s just not reasonable to use it. These aren’t things that are apparent when you move into an apartment — you see a balcony and you assume that you’re going to use it. Part of the goal of HowLoud is to help you identify these things before you move in and learn the hard way.

- Julie Levine, Marketing Associate

In Case You Missed It
Check out some other Featured Partners, such as group travel planning service Travefy, social media aggregator TINT, and navigation apps Urban Engines and 2GIS. See more featured partners here.

Changes in our Global Places Data – Q2 2015

Things change. At Factual, we recognize this applies to the world businesses and points of interest represented in our Global Places data. Every day, businesses open, close, move, shift ownership, update their names, and change in all other manner of ways. For this reason, our engineers dedicate considerable energy to always ensuring that our data remains an accurate representation of the real world.

Below is a summary of some changes that we’ve made since our last update. In the 11 countries listed here, we added about 6.6 million places, discarded about 1.9 million old records, and updated at least one field1 in 4.1 million records.

2015 Q2 Additions, Deletions, Updates

See the breakdown of these updates by field in the chart below2.

2015 Q2 Additions, Deletions, Updates

Keeping up with all of the changes in the world’s places is tough, but we’re up to it.

- Julie Levine, Marketing Associate

In Case You Missed It:
See updates from our past few quarters here:

1. Fields include: address, address extended, country, locality, name, PO box, postcode, region, telephone number.

2. Note that some records had updates to more than one field, thus the number of updates is larger than the number of updated records.

Factual Featured Partner: Travefy

Planning a trip, even a small one, can be challenging. Making sure everyone knows where to go, what time to meet, and how much to pay can vex even the most organized individuals. Travefy is a tool available online and on mobile to help assuage the frustrations of planning trips by providing all of the services you need in one place. We spoke with co-founder and CEO David Chait.

Company: Travefy
Located: Lincoln, NE
Partner Since: 2015
Website: www.travefy.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Travefy
Twitter: @travefy
Instagram: @travefy
App Store: iTunes
Name and Title: David Chait, Co-founder & CEO

Q: Introduce readers to Travefy. What do you do?
A: Travefy is a tool that solves all of the coordination headaches of group travel. If you’ve ever planned a trip with friends or family, you’ve probably dealt with endless threads of emails, the frustrating lack of transparency in knowing what’s going on, and the awkwardness of collecting money. What we’ve built is designed to be the easiest online and mobile group travel planner. We provide tools for groups to collaborate on trip details, build and share a rich itinerary, and track and collect expenses so nobody gets stuck with the bill.

Q: Why is location data important for Travefy? What Factual products do you use?
A: Location data for our users is really essential because we’re helping people plan once in a lifetime trips. The secret sauce that really lets them do that is the ability to find everything in the destinations they’re going to — great hotels, restaurants, activities. A big part of our success is around giving them the most robust data we can on what they’re searching for. To do this, we use tools like Factual’s Crosswalk to pull data from all different sources. This makes it easier for users to find all of the information on the places that they’re looking for.

Q: Why did you choose Factual as your location data provider?
A: It was an easy decision given both the breadth of the places pairings that are provided in Crosswalk and the fantastic customer service that we’ve found all along. We were really looking for a “Rosetta Stone” to help us match up the right data with the right places and found it with Factual.

Q: Why did you set out to create Travefy? What problem(s) were you trying to solve?
A: We started out with the broad idea of “group travel is painful.” Everyone on our team has dealt with frustrations where we were stuck with the bill or couldn’t get the trip off the ground. From that high level, we started realizing what the actual features are that solve some of these problems. Over time, we’ve built out these individual features bit by bit. The early alpha version of Travefy started with just helping you pick out dates; today we’ve have a far more robust array of features from that to letting you split payments. There are always a million different things we could do next that would be high impact, and we’re constantly in discussions on prioritization to determine which to actually go forward with.

Travefy helps you manage group expenses before, during, and after trips.

Q: The widespread availability of smartphones and tablets has clearly had a huge impact on how we travel. Are there are other recent or coming technologies that you see as game changers in this area?
A: I think we’re starting to see the tip of it with wearables and virtual reality. The key thing for us is to really be thoughtful around how to best take advantage of each technology. For example with wearables, we’re seeing a big rush by people to put entire apps on there instead of stopping to see what makes sense to actually have on your wrist. If you think about the Travefy platform, it makes a ton of sense to have your itinerary on your wrist for example, but less so to have a tool to search for hotels while planning your trip.

Q: Do you keep any statistics on the places that people plan trips for? Have you found any interesting trends?
A: We are data nuts. We actually recently released a report about some of our top findings. For example, we learned that the median cost for bachelorette parties is $244, while for bachelor parties it is $208. We also learned that the top cities for these were Las Vegas, New York, Miami, and New Orleans. Collecting user data is important for us because it helps us see how they engage with the tool and what their needs are.

Q: What is a lesson that you’ve learned while working on Travefy? Do you have any advice for nascent or aspiring entrepreneurs?
A: A key lesson has been to always put yourself in the mind of the user and really build user empathy. When you are building something, you know so much about it — which is sometimes too much if you’re testing. Looking at data to understand how users actually engage is crucial to drive a lot of the decision making. Be lean about the way that you build and constantly close that loop with user testing and feedback. Even if you know you have ten things to do, do them one at time to make sure you can get the most out of each.

Q: What is the best trip that you’ve ever taken?
A: One of the most unique and exciting tips I’ve taken was in 2008 when I went to China for work and then extended it. It was one of the first times I was in a country with such a unique and distinct culture. I was also travelling alone, which taught me a lot about cultural immersion that I apply to my trips now, especially my favorite kind… “group” trips.

- Julie Levine, Marketing Associate

In Case You Missed It
Check out some other Featured Partners, such as social media aggregator TINT, video city guide Tastemade, and socially conscious search and discovery app Glia. See more featured partners here.

Data Buzz: The Most Caffeinated Cities in the US

According to a survey by Zagat, 87% of Americans consume at least one cup of coffee each day; 68% purchase their coffee from a store (as opposed to making their own at home or work)1. So it’s no surprise that there are around 100,000 coffee establishments in the country today. Using Factual’s Global Places, we took a look at the ratio of residents to coffee shops in the nation’s most populous MSAs2.

Interestingly, several of the MSAs with the fewest residents per coffee shop (or most coffee shops per capita) did not gain this distinction by becoming overrun with name brands such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and others. The chart below shows the percent of coffee shops in each MSA that are not part of major chains3.

- Julie Levine, Marketing Associate

Global Places has over 70 million business listings and points of interest in 50 countries. This data is used to power our location based mobile audience and geofencing solutions.

1. https://www.zagat.com/b/2014-peoples-coffee-survey-results-revealed#1
2. Populations based on 2014 Census Estimate.
3. A “chain” coffee shop in this analysis is defined as any store with more than 10 branches in the US.