Data tip: Location values

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 9:50 AM

by Steven De La O, Google Base Operations

One formatting issue we've often come across when processing bulk uploads is the presence of invalid "location" values. Our bulk upload specifications mention that a valid location value is formatted as follows:

Street, city, state, postal code, and country

We understand complete addresses are not always available or applicable for certain items, so we accept partial addresses as well. So how can you find out if your location values will be accepted? Here's a tip you can use to check your values:

Before you submit your bulk upload file, try entering a few of your location values at http://local.google.com/. Your location is considered valid if it returns a hit on the Google Local map. If you don't get a hit, try modifying your location according to the suggestions Google Local makes. If you still can't get a hit, read the information in this Google Local help article.

We also use Google Local resources to help determine if location values in a file are valid. If your address works there, it should work in Google Base as well.

Thinking about information discovery

Friday, January 27, 2006 at 9:51 AM

By Bindu Reddy, Product Manager

The other day I realized that Google Base could evolve into an interesting tool for discovering content. Type in any query and you'll get a variety of item types which you then refine. The query [cancer] gives you clinical trials, reference articles and books, and the query [carrot cake] gives you recipes, products and even reviews.

Even more interesting are attributes within an item type. For example,

- browse job listings to learn that Ernst and Young has 62 job openings in San Francisco and 147 openings in New York
- there are more results for Chinese chicken recipes than there are Greek ones
- and way more protein receptors in mus musculus (a.k.a the common house mouse) than in e-coli (bacteria).


These are just a few interesting ways to browse and visualize semi-structured and structured data. Tell us how to do it in even more meaningful ways.

In the Spotlight: David Sanger Photography

Friday, January 20, 2006 at 10:40 AM

By Denise Gamboa, Product Marketing Manager

Since launch, people have found creative ways to use Google Base to their advantage, whether for personal or business use. Some of you have even written to let us know about your experience. Here is David Sanger'’s story about how Google Base has helped his stock photography business.

Photograph (c) David Sanger Photography


"”My business as a stock photographer involves the licensing of images and selling fine art prints to business and personal users.

Since our website already has a searchable database of images with extensive keywording, buyers can search the site for images under any combination of keywords like "Golden Gate Bridge" or "South Africa wines" or "romantic tropical beach". Each image has a dedicated page with a unique URL where a buyer can license the image or order a fine art print from our specialty printer, Pictopia.

What was missing was a place for the general public to easily conduct such a search, and Google Base provided the perfect solution. Buyers can search for golden gate bridge fine art prints or south africa pictures or romantic tropical beach prints and order their prints directly.

The master database is kept in Filemaker Pro and we already had an extract to upload to MYSQL on our web host. Google Base offers the option to bulk upload a file as a tab-delimited text file or in various XML formats. We chose to use the text file. With Filemaker it was easy to define additional fields to create an extract file with the image URL, a link to the image thumbnail, descriptive info including keywords, and some custom attributes. Setting up the FTP access went quickly and within a few hours the records were uploaded. It still took several days to work out details, making changes along the way. One of the best points about Google Base is that you can re-upload whenever you want, to add new images and correct or adjust keywords.

For a small stock photography business the most difficult task is to get visibility for individual offerings. We already use Google Sitemaps and Google Images to gain visibility but there's currently no option for adding descriptive, searchable metadata. Google Base offers the flexibility and quick turnaround we need to post new material and to change product details. The custom attributes will allow us to fine tune the offering over time.

In terms of results, our recent Christmas print sales were the best ever. Recent sales through Google, Froogle and Google Base include a BMW dealer looking for large photo murals of Oktoberfest and a Hollywood film studio looking for a Prague street scene.

As a Board member of Stock Artists Alliance, the professional association for stock photographers, I am also keenly aware of the need for new ways for individual photographers to offer their images to the market. Google Base certainly has the potential to empower small stock photo businesses to reach out to buyers worldwide."

Join the Group

Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 3:53 PM

by Steven De La O, Google Base Operations

One mark of a strong community is the ability to help each other out, and that's one reason we have launched the Google Base Help Discussion group. If you have questions about Google Base, there's a pretty good chance someone else has encountered something similar, so please consider this an alternative source of support. Tap into a knowledge network of providers and their insights and experiences to resolve questions and problems.

From time to time, the Google Base team will post messages here, and we encourage all members to share thoughts and ideas and to interact with each other. Don't delay - why not join the group right now. The "join this group" link can be found just below the group title at http://groups.google.com/group/base-help-discussion. And before you start, remember to read the group charter.

Google Base at CES

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:41 PM

By Denise Gamboa, Product Marketing Manager

If you attended CES in Las Vegas last week, you probably caught a glimpse of the Google booth. We were there conducting demos of Google Base along with a dozen or so other products.

Photograph taken by Shamim

Google booth - South Hall Las Vegas Convention Center

Photograph taken by Shamim

Google booth - robotic arm

Photograph taken by Denise

Bindu answering questions at Google Base station

Photograph taken by Shamim

Denise at Google Base station

Over four days (January 5th-8th) we met people from all sorts of different backgrounds: an exchange student from France, small business owners, real estate agents, professors, investors, reporters and webmasters. We found that Google Base is useful to people in different ways. Students are interested in sharing information about their classes, their work and their social lives. Business owners want to drive additional visibility to their websites and to the products/services that they want to sell. Webmasters want more traffic and are curious about integrated features that Google Base has to offer. In every case, it was exciting to meet our users and answer questions that you had.

Your favorite features and functionality:

1. Possible distribution to other Google properties like Google, Froogle and Google Local
2. It's free!
3. Attribute search
4. Ability to define your own attributes and keywords
5. Ability to bulk upload items
6. Ability to link to your own website
7. Email anonymization
8. Google maps integration

Top inquiries we received (linked to corresponding answers):

1. What is Google Base?
2. What type of information can I submit to Google Base?
3. Can I upload digital files?
4. Is it free? No way!
5. What if I have lots of things to share?
6. What are custom attributes?

Many people were also interested in hearing about coming features and future plans. Stay tuned to find out more about those! We have some exciting things lined up!

Bulk uploads and subdomains

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 at 2:33 PM

By Steven De La O, Google Base Operations

One major sticking point for folks attempting to submit data to Google Base via bulk uploads has been fixed in our latest update.

Registering a URL in account settings is a requirement for submitting bulk upload files. Till recently, many people were prohibited from registering URLs that included subdomains. One example of a subdomain is http://groups.google.com/. If you registered http://groups.google.com/base-help-discussion/, nobody else could register a URL that included that subdomain. For example, http://groups.google.com/Froogle-Merchants/ could not be registered for another account even though it points to a different page.

This was a major hitch that ultimately prevented many people from submitting their files, including those who have online stores with the same subdomains. This should no longer be a problem, and we are looking forward to receiving data that may have been affected by this issue till now.