# Data Package

Data Package is a simple container format used to describe and package a collection of data. The format provides a simple contract for data interoperability that supports frictionless delivery, installation and management of data.

Data Packages can be used to package any kind of data. At the same time, for specific common data types such as tabular data it has support for providing important additional descriptive metadata – for example, describing the columns and data types in a CSV.

The following core principles inform our approach:

  • Simplicity
  • Extensibility and customisation by design
  • Metadata that is human-editable and machine-usable
  • Reuse of existing standard formats for data
  • Language, technology and infrastructure agnostic

# Suite of Specifications

Over time the single Data Package spec has evolved into a suite of specs – partly through componentization whereby the original spec is in several components and partly through extension.

The main specifications are:

# How Do These Specifications Relate?

A Data Package can “contain” any type of file. A Tabular Data Package is a type of Data Package specialized for tabular data and which “contains” one or more CSV files. In a Tabular Data Package, each CSV must have a schema defined using Table Schema and, optionally, a dialect defined using CSV-DDF. An application or library that consumes Tabular Data Packages therefore must be able to understand not only the full Data Package specification, but also Table Schema and CSV-DDF.

For more information on each specification, see below:

# Getting Started with Data Packaging

Creating a Data Package is very easy: all you need to do is put a datapackage.json “descriptor” file in the top-level directory of your set of data files.

A minimal example Data Package would look like this on disk:


# Data file(s) (CSV in this case but could be any type of data).
# Data files may go either in data subdirectory or in the main directory

# (Optional!) A README (in markdown format)

Any number of additional files such as more data files, scripts (for processing or analyzing the data) and other material may be provided but are not required.


There is a full RFC-style specification of Data Package format (opens new window) to complement this quick introduction.

The Tabular Data Package format extends Data Packages for tabular data. It supports providing additional information such as data types of columns.

# datapackage.json

datapackage.json file is the basic building block of a Data Package and is the only required file. It provides:

  • General metadata such as the name of the package, its license, its publisher and source, etc
  • A “manifest” in the the form of a list of the data resources (data files) included in this data package along with information on those files (e.g. schema)

As its file extension indicates, it must be a JSON (opens new window) file. Here’s a very minimal example of a datapackage.json file:

  "name": "a-unique-human-readable-and-url-usable-identifier",
  "title": "A nice title",
  "licenses" : [ ... ],
  "sources" : [...],
  "resources": [{
    // see below for what a resource descriptor looks like

Note: a complete list of potential attributes and their meaning can be found in the full Data Package spec (opens new window).

Note: the Data Package format is extensible: publishers may add their own additional metadata as well as constraints on the format and type of data by adding their own attributes to the datapackage.json.

Here is a much more extensive example of a datapackage JSON file:

  "name": "a-unique-human-readable-and-url-usable-identifier",
  "datapackage_version": "1.0-beta",
  "title": "A nice title",
  "description": "...",
  "version": "2.0",
  "keywords": ["name", "My new keyword"],
  "licenses": [{
    "url": "http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/pddl/",
    "name": "Open Data Commons Public Domain",
    "version": "1.0",
    "id": "odc-pddl"
  "sources": [{
    "name": "World Bank and OECD",
    "web": "http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD"
    "title": "Joe Bloggs",
    "email": "[email protected]",
    "web": "http://www.bloggs.com"
  "maintainers": [{
    // like contributors
  "publishers": [{
    // like contributors
  "dependencies": {
    "data-package-name": ">=1.0"
  "resources": [
      // ... see below ...
  // extend your datapackage.json with attributes that are not
  // part of the data package spec
  // we add a views attribute to display Recline Dataset Graph Views
  // in our Data Package Viewer
  "views" : [
      ... see below ...
  // you can add your own attributes to a datapackage.json, too
  "my-own-attribute": "data-packages-are-awesome",

# Resources

You list data files in the resources entry of the datapackage.json.

    // one of url or path should be present
    "path": "relative-path-to-file", // e.g. data/mydata.csv
    "url": "online url" // e.g http://mysite.org/some-data.csv

# Views

The Data Package Viewer (opens new window) will display a Recline Dataset Graph View (opens new window) when a views entry is provided in the datapackage.json.

  • Include the resourceName property if you have more than one resource and want to display a graph for a resource other than the first resource

  • In the state property

    • the group property is the name of the resource field whose values will be used on the y axis in the bars graph type and the x axis in all other graph types
    • the series property is an array of one or more names of resource fields whose values will be used on the x axis in the bars graph type and the y axis in all other graph types
    • the graphType may be one of lines-and-points, lines, points, bars, or columns
  "id": "graph",
  "label": "Graph",
  "resourceName": "a-resource-name",
  "type": "Graph",
  "state": {
    "group": "a-resource-field-name",
    "series": [
    "graphType": "lines-and-points"

# Examples

Many exemplar data packages can be found on datahub (opens new window). Specific examples:

# World GDP

A Data Package which includes the data locally in the repo (data is CSV).

http://datahub.io/core/gdp (opens new window)

Here’s the datapackage.json:

https://pkgstore.datahub.io/core/gdp/9/datapackage.json (opens new window)

# S&P 500 Companies Data

This is an example with more than one resource in the data package.

http://datahub.io/core/s-and-p-500-companies (opens new window)

Here’s the datapackage.json:

https://pkgstore.datahub.io/core/s-and-p-500-companies/10/datapackage.json (opens new window)

# GeoJSON and TopoJSON

You can see an example on how to package GeoJSON files here (opens new window).

DataHub does not currently support the TopoJSON format. You can use “Vega Graph Spec” and display your TopoJSON data using the Vega specification (opens new window). See an example here (opens new window).