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Data Package

Authors Rufus Pollock, Paul Walsh, Adam Kariv, Evgeny Karev, Peter Desmet, Data Package Working Group

A simple container format for describing a coherent collection of data in a single ‘package’. It provides the basis for convenient delivery, installation and management of datasets.


The key words MUST, MUST NOT, REQUIRED, SHALL, SHALL NOT, SHOULD, SHOULD NOT, RECOMMENDED, MAY, and OPTIONAL in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.


A Data Package consists of:

  • Metadata that describes the structure and contents of the package
  • Resources such as data files that form the contents of the package

The Data Package metadata is stored in a “descriptor”. This descriptor is what makes a collection of data a Data Package. The structure of this descriptor is the main content of the specification below.

In addition to this descriptor a data package will include other resources such as data files. The Data Package specification does NOT impose any requirements on their form or structure and can therefore be used for packaging any kind of data.

The data included in the package can be provided as:

  • Files bundled locally with the package descriptor
  • Remote resources, referenced by URL
  • ”Inline” data (see below) which is included directly in the descriptor


A minimal data package on disk would be a directory containing a single file:

datapackage.json # (required) metadata and schemas for this data package

Lacking a single external source of data would make this of limited use. A slightly less minimal version would be:

# a data file (CSV in this case)

Additional files such as a README, scripts (for processing or analyzing the data) and other material may be provided. By convention scripts go in a scripts directory and thus, a more elaborate data package could look like this:

datapackage.json # (required) metadata and schemas for this data package # (optional) README in markdown format
# data files may go either in data subdirectory or in main directory
# the directory for code scripts - again these can go in the base directory

Several example data packages can be found in the datasets organization on github, including:


Data Package descriptor MUST be a descriptor as per Descriptor definition. A list of standard properties that can be included into a descriptor is defined in the Properties section.

When a data package is available as a physical or virtual directory containing files, a descriptor MUST be named datapackage.json and it MUST be placed on the top-level of the file structure (relative to any other resources provided as part of the data package).

The descriptor is the central file in a Data Package. It provides:

  • General metadata such as the package’s title, license, publisher etc
  • A list of the data “resources” that make up the package including their location on disk or online and other relevant information (including, possibly, schema information about these data resources in a structured form)

An example of a Data Package descriptor:

"name" : "a-unique-human-readable-and-url-usable-identifier",
"title" : "A nice title",
"licenses" : [ ... ],
"sources" : [ ... ],
"resources": [


A Data Package descriptor MUST have resoures property and SHOULD have name, id, licenses, and profile properties.

resources [required]

The resources property is REQUIRED, with at least one resource.

Packaged data resources are described in the resources property of the package descriptor. This property MUST be an array of objects. Each object MUST follow the Data Resource specification.


A root level Data Package descriptor MAY have a $schema property that MUST be a profile as per Profile definition that MUST include all the metadata constraints required by this specification.

The default value is and the recommended value is


The name is a simple name or identifier to be used for this package in relation to any registry in which this package will be deposited.

  • It SHOULD be human-readable and consist only of lowercase English alphanumeric characters plus ., - and _.
  • It SHOULD be unique in relation to any registry in which this package will be deposited (and preferably globally unique).
  • It SHOULD be invariant, meaning that it SHOULD NOT change when a data package is updated, unless the new package version SHOULD be considered a distinct package, e.g. due to significant changes in structure or interpretation. Version distinction SHOULD be left to the version property. As a corollary, the name also SHOULD NOT include an indication of time range covered.


A property reserved for globally unique identifiers. Examples of identifiers that are unique include UUIDs and DOIs.

A common usage pattern for Data Packages is as a packaging format within the bounds of a system or platform. In these cases, a unique identifier for a package is desired for common data handling workflows, such as updating an existing package. While at the level of the specification, global uniqueness cannot be validated, consumers using the id property MUST ensure identifiers are globally unique.


"id": "b03ec84-77fd-4270-813b-0c698943f7ce"
"id": ""


The license(s) under which the package is provided.

licenses MUST be an array. Each item in the array is a License. Each MUST be an object. The object MUST contain a name property and/or a path property, and it MAY contain a title property:

  • name: A string containing an Open Definition license ID
  • path: A URL or Path, that is a fully qualified HTTP address, or a relative POSIX path.
  • title: A string containing human-readable title.

An example of using the licenses property:

"licenses": [{
"name": "ODC-PDDL-1.0",
"path": "",
"title": "Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License v1.0"


A string providing a title or one sentence description for this package


A description of the package. The description MUST be markdown formatted — this also allows for simple plain text as plain text is itself valid markdown. The first paragraph (up to the first double line break) SHOULD be usable as summary information for the package.


A URL for the home on the web that is related to this data package.


An image to use for this data package. For example, when showing the package in a listing.

The value of the image property MUST be a string pointing to the location of the image. The string MUST be a URL or Path, that is a fully qualified HTTP address, or a relative POSIX path.


A version string identifying the version of the package. It SHOULD conform to the Semantic Versioning requirements and SHOULD follow the Data Package Version recipe.


The datetime on which this was created.

Note: semantics may vary between publishers — for some this is the datetime the data was created, for others the datetime the package was created.

The datetime MUST conform to the string formats for datetime as described in RFC3339. Example:

"created": "1985-04-12T23:20:50.52Z"


An Array of string keywords to assist users searching for the package in catalogs.


The people or organizations who contributed to this Data Package. It MUST be an array. Each entry is a Contributor and MUST be an object. A Contributor MUST have at least one property. A Contributor is RECOMMENDED to have title property and MAY contain givenName, familyName, path, email, roles, and organization properties:

  • title: A string containing a name of the contributor.
  • givenName: A string containing the name a person has been given, if the contributor is a person.
  • familyName: A string containing the familial name that a person inherits, if the contributor is a person.
  • path: A fully qualified URL pointing to a relevant location online for the contributor.
  • email: A string containing an email address.
  • roles: An array of strings describing the roles of the contributor. A role is RECOMMENDED to follow an established vocabulary, such as DataCite Metadata Schema’s contributorRole or CreDIT. Useful roles to indicate are: creator, contact, rightsHolder, and dataCurator.
  • organization: A string describing the organization this contributor is affiliated to.

An example of the object structure is as follows:

"contributors": [{
"title": "Joe Bloggs",
"email": "[email protected]",
"path": "",
"roles": ["creator"]

Use of the creator role does not imply that that person was the original creator of the data in the data package - merely that they created and/or maintain the data package. It is common for data packages to “package” up data from elsewhere. The original origin of the data can be indicated with the sources property - see above.



The raw sources for this data package. It MUST be an array of Source objects. A Source object MUST have at least one property. A Source object is RECOMMENDED to have title property and MAY have path, email, and version properties:

  • title: A string containing a title of the source (e.g. document or organization name).
  • path: A URL or Path, that is a fully qualified HTTP address, or a relative POSIX path.
  • email: A string containing an email address.
  • version: A string containing a version of the source.

An example of the object structure is as follows:

"sources": [{
"title": "World Bank and OECD",
"path": ""

Data Package draws content and/or inspiration from, among others, the following specifications and implementations: