Heroku Data Clips Make Sharing Results from Postgres Queries Simple

Heroku has added a data clips feature to its Heroku Postgres databases. What’s that, you ask? According Heroku’s Matthew Soldo, data clips are a “convenient way to share data inside a database.”

Basically, the feature lets users of Heroku Postgres share a result of a SQL query via a URL. The results can be viewed in the browser, or downloaded in several standard formats.

What’s the point of the feature? Rather than sharing a static snapshot of a query, this allows users to see a live result of a query at any given time. (Data Clips can also be locked to a specific time, if preferred.) So, for example, this might be useful to share up-to-date statistics on current inventory or sales results.

The example given on the Heroku blog combs through Wikipedia entries and finds people in the English articles with the term scientist or artist.

Note that this is not a feature that’s available via upstream PostgreSQL. Soldo says that the feature is built on top of Heroku’s Web based administration tool. “Because PostgreSQL doesn’t have a built-in webserver, this feature wouldn’t be possible on the standalone database.”

The feature is immediately available to users of Heroku Postgres. Note that clips do have a few limits. Results are limited to 10,000 rows and the clips will not refresh more than once every 60 seconds.

This looks like a pretty nifty feature. Is this compelling enough to consider using Heroku Postgres instead of a self-hosted PostgreSQL database, though? Would be curious to hear what other folks think about it.

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