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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


A free, open source, powerful tool for working with messy data.

What is OpenRefine?

OpenRefine, previously known as GoogleRefine, is a powerful, open source software which visualizes and manipulates large quantities of data all at once. OpenRefine looks like a spreadsheet, but operates like a database, allowing for increased discovery capabilities beyond programs like Microsoft Excel.

What can OpenRefine do?

OpenRefine can be used to explore, clean, and link data on a large scale. Functions include:

  • Data Normalization
  • Column Reorganization
  • Faceting and Clustering
  • Tracking Operations
  • Exporting Data
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Open Source
  • More powerful than Excel with large sets of data
  • Platform independent
  • Great history tracking
  • Can export commonly used functions for reuse
  • Some queries run slowly
  • Relies on many external services that may no longer be supported
  • Some functions require light programing knowledge
  • Some tasks are difficult or impossible
    • Add new rows
    • Find and replace

8/22/2018 - Brinna Michael