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2022 Observable Retrospective

  • Melody Meckfessel

The Observable Community Continues To Inspire Us

2022 was quite a year - both challenging and inspirational! We continue to be inspired by the amazing work and generosity of Observable's vast community of contributors.

Observable's growing community is pushing the boundaries of what's possible for data visualization. We encourage you to browse our Featured Creators page and be sure to check out our recently released 2022 Community Recognition Award recipients.

Observable Insight

In October, we hosted our very first user conference, Observable Insight, and 1,374 people registered. (Honestly, we'd hoped for 500 registrations.) We had attendees from industry leading organizations including Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Github, Adobe, Netflix, Airbnb, Snowflake, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Northeastern, UC Irvine, The New York Times, Reuters, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Marshall Project, McKinsey & Company, Accenture and so many more.

Over the course of two days, we learned how our community and customers are using Observable to do exceptional, collaborative data work via a series of shared live coding sessions, workshops, panels, and customer stories. These folks are some of the best in the business and we are honored that they chose to participate and contribute in such meaningful ways to our inaugural event. For those who missed it, we pulled together a set of resources and videos for both Day 1 and Day 2 and highly encourage you to spend some time with these truly "insightful" recaps.

2022 Focus: More ways to collaborate with data through great dataviz

Suggestions from you, other community members and Observable Ambassadors led to some of the biggest platform improvements in the past year.

You asked for more ways to collaborate. In late August, we introduced Free Teams so anyone to create and collaborate in a public workspace completely free of charge. We also added the ability to pause live edits (a direct request from our ambassadors). Over 60% of Free Teams are created by new users! Our goal is to expand the availability of tools so that everyone can collaboratively work together in the way they need.

We expanded our paid products via Pro and Enterprise accounts for those who need to do their data work in private. We added new features like team templates and importing to support code reuse. We also launched version locking for greater control over content.

You asked for better ways to work with data. The Data Table Cell was launched just for that purpose, including interactive sorting and filtering directly in the notebook, added the Microsoft SQL server and Oracle database clients, and debuted new iterations of Observable Plot with greatly improved functionality for mapping and much more.

You asked for ways to improve finding great work by other creators. We improved search and curation of great content. introduced version locking for notebook imports, included pronouns in user profiles, and improved embedding and improvements to collection browsing.

For all the details on these updates and more, be sure to check out our ongoing release notes. And know that we plan to increase the velocity with which we roll out additional features and improvements in 2023.

Thoughts On The Coming Year

2023 will be the year that more data teams embrace creative collaboration to build compelling data dashboards and apps. Working with data is iterative and creative. Observable brings the creativity and art of collaboration together with the science of data analysis and visualization. Increasing awareness for the importance of leveraging visual interfaces to make better business decisions will lead to broader accessibility. What is currently a bespoke practice handled only by experts will become more widely available where everyone to contribute and lend their expertise.

Data work is a team sport and we expect the role of Data Analysts to be further elevated in the coming year; we see Observable as a key to unlocking this shift. No longer just an entry point to our industry, we believe that as we collectively empower Data Analysts to affect change and get credit for their work, their overall impact will only grow.

More people are starting their journey with dataviz. Observable is here to help wherever you are on your journey to develop your skills. Expect more Observable created tutorials for data analysis and dataviz. Expect to see more community created educational work.

Tutorials

Finally, how people work with data is changing dramatically and the workflow is evolving too. The tools, processes and best practices needed to do better data work will continue to gain traction and improve within organizations. Many companies start with small data teams, but once they introduce more comprehensive and streamlined data work flows and expand to non-experts within their organization, adoption will increase and everyone will benefit.

Thank you for being on this journey with us!

Interested in learning more about collaborating with data?