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bigchef

Global Ingredient Databank

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Greetings All!

I have spent the last few years compiling a databank of every ingredient on earth. Every spice, fruit, vegetable, and seafood you name it. They have been broken down into a browsable form and the common name for each item is used. I am now seeking to expand the reach of this data by adding additional ingredient information. For example:

  • Flavour Profile: The primary flavour of the product
  • Texture Profile: Textural composition of the product
  • Flavour Intensity Level: 1 (Low), 2 (Medium), 3 (High)
  • Key Aroma Compounds: Must be relevant to the product. Every ingredient has a multitude of aromas but there are only a select few which are truly relevant to how we smell and taste the item
  • Sympathetic Flavours
  • Unsympathetic Flavours

I am looking for the best way to publish this data onto the internet. I believe that an opensource format may be the best way forward. Allowing the public to aid in the gathering of this information. What do you all think of this upcoming resource? Where and how do you feel I should make it available? On a separate note it will be later used in conjunction with my culinary algorithmic software which I will explain in more detail in my next post. I look forward to hearing your thought and comments. Thank you all for your help.

Kind regards,

Ryan Wallis


Edited by bigchef (log)

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Hi bigchef, and welcome to the eGullet forums.

You should definitely check out our WikiGullet Project. We've already created the infrastructure for the kind of collaborative culinary encycolpedia that you describe. There's a great group of members currently contributing to it who have gotten it off to a great start, but obviously there's much more to do. Please join in!

There's a WikiGullet discussion topic here that you'll find helpful.

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Thank you! That looks like the type of format which may work. One problem that comes to mind that I would have to input each ingredient from the database one at a time. The structure is already set. And in terms of the additional criteria for the ingridients (flavour, texture and so on) maybe a "tick the box" format to allow ease of input and to help ensure the type of input would be consistent. Regardless, I would still like to contribute to your wiki site.

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Here is just a small sample of the hierchial structure I am talking about. It is only a sample as is not even close to what I need to post for the completed form. Users need to be able to have fields to input data for the topics I listed earlier. What do you think?

Sorry all....I can't seem to be able to upload the image. No idea why.


Edited by bigchef (log)

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I wouldn't suggest a completely open structure, what usually works well is a big talk page for groups (of ingredients) and an expert volunteer who translates the discussion into the database and weeds out the wrong, stupid and trolling suggestions.

I would also suggest a small page about the history of the ingredient and how it is made, so that people may make the ingredients themselves. You may also want to link an ingredient to it's components for example, wine would link to grapes, I wouldn't necessarily make it two way as some things are more or less incorporated into everything (like salt).

Another thought would be what kind of database you want to use, you can use a standard relational database as it is easy to do and well documented, so you can have a robust back-end, another idea might be an object oriented database as it would allow to make unique instances of object (for example the multiple brands and years of wine).

Another worry is what kind of interface you want, will you just supply the raw database and allow people to use different management systems to peruse it themselves? In that case you will want to make sure it has an XML shell so that most management systems will be able to read it. If you want to put it online, you'll also want an XML shell, but then focus comes upon the interface, will you program your own or do you have a ready made solution in mind? Or do you want to offer it as one program, in which case you want to make sure to split up the database as much as possible to allow for easy updating.

If you aren't all that comfortable with the technical side, it might perhaps be an idea to make it a project on Sourceforge and try to attract some technical expertise that way, but that means a lot of cajoling and dealing with subpar programmers if you don't know anyone in this world. Another option would be to start it as a Kickstarter project and sell a premium version.

This may seem like a lot of work, but since you mentioned you were already working on it for a couple of years, I assume you're ready for the extra work, if not, you may want think about just loading it in a wiki and let it live it's own life, though that would be severely limiting in search options and customization.


Edited by Deus Mortus (log)

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I agree with the idea of having volunteers to aid in the filtering of data. Each item may be linked to separate pages that list its history and use however that is not my initial intention for the databases structure. It would require a great deal of additional time in order to write and link every item one at a time. I am quite computer literate but I am not versed in how to program myself. I have the data categorised using excel. I am looking at a collapsible tree structure. Since the criteria to be used for the texture and flavour profiles is set I would like to have a “tick the box” type structure next to each ingredient. I have used visio to visually illustrate a sample structure of the database. I have tried to post one but it will not complete for some reason. I have database oasis to aid me in assembling the database but I have yet to begin as I don’t wish to create it only to find I cannot upload it. I just checked kickstarter and it is fantastic concept! I will explore it for this and other projects I have in mind. I will keep the forum updated to further developments on this and other culinary orientated projects

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In case you are interested in learning how to program, I would suggest you check out this list, if you are looking to putting it online, I would suggest learning PHP and if you want to make it a seperate program, I am always a big fan of C++ though it may be a bit to involved in which case you might want to start with C#.

I would at the very least suggest reading up on databases, as it's clear you are a bit confused what the different databases are, because a "collapsable tree structure" is an interface not a database structure. Though considering the fact that you are lacking the knowledge to do this yourself, I would try and find someone who has the time to aid you in this.

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Thank you again for your help. All the data is ready to be used but I probably will need the aid of someone for the database. I wonder if there are any members of this forum who would like to aid me in this project? The alternative is to start a project a kickstart as per your sugestion.

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Normally I would offer to help, but between my school workload, work workload and hobby workload, I have more workload then waking hours already. Though I hear the culinary world is full of people fleeing IT, so perhaps there is some skillful help to be gleaned from the forums. Either way, good luck with the project and while I don't have time to do any real coding, if you need advice on how to find help or have a problem or bug you really can't seem to fix, I'll try to help.

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Thank you again and I understand that you have a lot going on currently. Perhaps I should start a seperate thread asking for help? How long and difficult do you think it may be to construct? I have the data ready. By the way I am also in search of someone familiar in programing to aid me in the construction of my culinary algorithmic software. The logic it operates under and the steps are all done and illustrated with a flowchart for refference. Any ideas?

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One concern about starting this on something like wikigullet is that I would lose all credit for me work and would not have any control of what is done with it. I want the public to be able to add data regarding flavour profiles and so on but I don't want to lose control of how the data is used and so on. The criteria I mentioned earlier should be the only items listed with each item. If wanted they can be linked to seperate pages regarding there history, use and so on but I feel this format would be most lean and less clutered.

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Well the really hard variables are still up in the air, things like using ready made solutions can speed up the process a lot, but then again, you might want to have some specialty designed management systems for efficient use of hardware and you definitely want a custom interface to make sure using the database is as natural as possible.

One the algorithmic side it is again a matter of how complex it is, how long is the tree, is all the data already in the database or does it need to correlated from the data, etc.

Though the biggest factor would be the programmer and that is still up in the air.

In the mean time what you can do to help is make sure you have case studies, how would a user use it? What does it need to do? How should it react if it doesn't know something? How should the data be inputted, etc.

A lot of the grunt work in programming is finding out what the program needs to do and how the users will want to interact with it, it's not unusual for me to spend a month finding out all that and then programming it in a day or two.


Edited by Deus Mortus (log)

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All those details have already been researched and are ready. Although the premade solutions are easiest you may be right in having something custom made.

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