Flash Fill and FlashExtract


February 6, 2017


Sumit Gulwani


99% of computer users do not know programming and struggle with repetitive tasks. Programming by Examples (PBE) can revolutionize this landscape by allowing end users to create small scripts from input-output examples. A killer application of this technology today is in the space of data cleaning. Apparently, data scientists spend 80% of their time wrangling with data. In this short video, I will demonstrate the PBE concept using two data preparation features: (i) The Flash Fill feature in Microsoft Excel that allows performing syntactic string transformations from examples. (ii) The FlashExtract technology (available as the ConvertFrom-string cmdlet in Powershell and Custom Logs/Fields feature in Microsoft OMS) that allows parsing custom log files into structured tables by giving examples of various fields.