Chicago Food Inspections Explorer

As a first foray into playing with some of Chicago’s public data I decided to take a look at the food inspections data.  I started off by making a proof of concept — a basic web form for searching by address or restaurant name.  On the face of it, this isn’t a whole lot more useful than the search on Chicago’s data portal site, though it does cull some of the less immediately interesting columns.   The next step was building a Firefox Add-on that activates when you go to yelp (install the xpi or check out the source code).  When you visit a restaurant’s page it automatically inserts the latest inspection data in a collapsible box underneath the restaurant’s star rating.


Before expanding the actual inspections.


After. Note, don’t use this on any fast food restaurants you want to keep eating at. Taco Bell wasn’t chosen by accident.

This was my first time writing a Firefox Add-on and figuring out where to start turned out to be a little more complicated than I expected.  There are a couple of different ways to extend Firefox, and while Mozilla has some fantastic documentation, there were a lot more choices that needed to be made up front than I realized (such as do you use the Add-on builder vs. the Add-on SDK).  I decided to use the Add-on builder, Mozilla’s in-browser IDE for developing Add-ons that only need access to high level APIs.

Obviously this is still alpha software.  There’s bound to be bugs, and I can guarantee you that the inspection data could look prettier. If you do decide to give it a whirl, please let me know of any bugs you find on the issues page or via email.


1 Response to “Chicago Food Inspections Explorer”

  1. 1 Year in Review 2013 | A Stranger's Sojourn Trackback on January 5, 2014 at 9:26 PM

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