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Project CKAN

Irina Bolychevsky - October 18, 2013 in News, Roadmap

Over the last few years CKAN has seen impressive growth in technology, uptake, number of deployments and in the vendor and developer communities. It is now the basis of dozens of major sites around the world, including national data portals in the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Austria and Norway. Once, almost all core CKAN development was done by the Open Knowledge Foundation; now, there are an increasing number of developers and providers, deploying, customising and working with CKAN.

We believe that, as with many open-source projects when they achieve a certain size, the time has come to bring some more structure to the community of CKAN developers and users. By doing so we aim to provide a solid foundation for the future growth of the project, and to more explicitly empower its growing array of stakeholders.

We are therefore proposing to create an independent, self-governed CKAN project at the Open Knowledge Foundation, separate from our own CKAN developments and offerings, to guide the future development and direction of the software. The main proposed actions are:

  • To establish a steering group and advisory board to oversee the project and represent the growing number of stakeholders.
  • To establish specific groups or teams to look after specific areas; in particular, a “technical group” to oversee technical development and a “content and outreach group” to oversee materials (including project website) and to drive community and user engagement.
  • To establish a membership model for stakeholders to support the long-term sustainability of the project.

The project will still have its formal institutional home at the Open Knowledge Foundation, and enjoy support and participation from our CKAN team. But it will be autonomous and will have its own independent governance, from a board drawn from major CKAN stakeholders. The Open Knowledge Foundation will continue to contribute at all levels, but this approach will allow others – from government users to suppliers of CKAN services – to have a formal role in the future development and direction of CKAN.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be introducing a new structure for development (how to become a core contributor etc) and governance (steering committee and supporting ckan.org as a member) and we would love to hear your ideas and feedback. Please either get in touch or place ideas in this open project ckan document and watch this space for more posts soon!

CKAN Roadmap goes public

Irina Bolychevsky - June 24, 2013 in News, Roadmap

Now that CKAN 2.0 is out, what should the next direction be for CKAN? New features, easier customisation, more data previews, UI tweaks… we’ve had plenty of ideas and suggestions, and we’d like you, the CKAN community, to help shape the direction and future of CKAN.

So, we’ve created a public CKAN Roadmap using Trello! CKAN is open source and there are lots of ways to get involved:

  • Prioritise features: see something you want? Vote it up (by clicking on the card and pressing the ‘vote’ button)!
  • Specify implementation: comment on a feature card with requirements, edge cases to consider or related work that exists.
  • Contribute code: Are you a coder working on something like one of these features? Let us know! Add a comment to the card, and e-mail the dev list.
  • Sponsor: See a feature listed you’d really like in CKAN, but don’t have the skills to implement yourself? You can sponsor the feature by paying for the developer time needed to create it. Just, write to info[at]ckan.org or using our contact form.
  • Suggest: Is there some great feature that you can’t see on the roadmap? Add it to our github wiki page and kickstart a discussion on the discussion list.

Roadmap screenshot

About the roadmap

On the roadmap, you’ll find four columns of cards:

  • Ideas / requests: there are lots of ideas that have been put forward. Which of them would you find most valuable?
  • Backlog: These are things we plan to work on, but haven’t started yet.
  • In progress: Stuff our developers are working on at the moment.
  • Done: These are features that have recently been developed and will appear in a release of CKAN soon. Click on a card to see more details.

For actual bugs and issues, it is still best to report them on our github issue tracker. For general Q&A please use stackoverflow or drop a note to our open community dev list.

Easy “one-click” deployment of CKAN 2.0 on VM Depot

Gavin Chait - June 13, 2013 in Deployments, News, Releases

CKAN 2.0 on VM Depot

CKAN 2.0 on VM Depot

Along with our release of CKAN 2.0, we have been building simple methods for faster deployment. Our intention is to get you up and running quickly and easily.

VM Depot is “a community-driven catalog of preconfigured operating systems, applications, and development stacks that can easily be deployed on Windows Azure.” You will find a straightforward deployment script and a step-by-step set of instructions.

We would like to thank the team at Microsoft Open Technologies which made this possible and we hope that you find this a simple way to develop test instances and custom extensions, as well as new stand-alone open data services.

We would love to hear about the sites you set up there, so please let us know and we can feature them on ckan.org.

U.S. government’s data portal Data.gov relaunched on CKAN

Irina Bolychevsky - May 23, 2013 in Deployments, News, Releases

Today, we are excited to announce that our work with the US Federal Government (data.gov) has gone live at catalog.data.gov! You can also read the announcement from the data.gov blog with their description of the new catalog.

Catalog.Data.gov

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s Services team, which deploys CKAN, have been working hard on a new unified catalog to replace the numerous previously existing catalogs of data.gov. All geospatial and raw data is federated into a single portal where data from different portals, sources and catalogs is displayed in a beautiful standardized user interface allowing users to search, filter and facet through thousands of datasets.

This is a key part of the U.S. meeting their newly announced Open Data Policy and marks data.gov’s first major step into open source. All the code is available on Github and data.gov plan to make their CKAN / Drupal set-up reusable for others as part of OGPL.

As one of the first major production sites to launch with the shiny new CKAN 2.0, data.gov takes advantage of the much improved information architecture, templating and distributed scalable authorization model. CKAN provides data.gov with a web interface for over 200 publishing organizations to manage their members, harvest sources and datasets – supporting requirements being outlined in Project Open Data. This means that agencies can maintain their data sources individually, schedule regular refreshes of the metadata into the central repository and manage an approval workflow.

There have been many additions to CKAN’s geospatial functionality, most notably a fast and elegant geospatial search:

Geospatial search filter

We have added robust support for harvesting FGDC and ISO 19139 documents from WAFs, single spatial documents, CSW endpoints, ArcGIS portals, Z39:50 sources, ESRI Geoportal Servers as well as other CKAN catalogs. This is available for re-use as part of our harvesting and spatial extensions.

Most importantly, this is a big move towards greater accessibility and engagement with re-users. Not only is metadata displayed through a browsable web interface (instead of XML files), there is now a comprehensive CKAN API with access to all web functionality including search queries and downloads which respects user and publisher permission settings. Users can preview the data in graphic previews as well as exploring Web Map Services, whilst the dataset page provides context, browsable tags, dataset extent, and maintainers.

Web Map Service

As data.gov invites users to get involved and provide feedback, we would also like to say that we are really excited about CKAN’s future. We have a very active mailing list, new documentation for installing CKAN and ways to contribute to the code for anyone wanting to join the CKAN community.

If you’re launching a CKAN portal soon or have one we don’t know about, let us know and we’ll make sure to add you to our wall of awesome!

CKAN release 1.4.1

David Read - June 27, 2011 in Feature, Releases

Today we have released version 1.4.1 of CKAN, which includes an important refactor to make it simpler to create custom package editing forms – see more about this exciting feature below. There are also a selection of minor improvements, for instance adding ‘nofollow’ to reduce link spam.

Changelog v1.4.1 2011-06-27

Major:

  • Refactor Web interface (including ‘package edit’ form) to use logic layer rather than model objects directly (#1078)

Minor:

  • Links in user-supplied text made less attractive to spammers (nofollow) (#1181)
  • Package change notifications – remove duplicates (#1149)
  • Metadata dump linked to (#1169)
  • Refactor authorization code to be common across Package, Group and Authorization Group (#1074)

Bug fixes:

  • Duplicate authorization roles were difficult to delete (#1083)

New forms

Editing packages is at the heart of CKAN, and a lot of organisations running CKAN have customised the edit form.

In the past this was done all in Python code, reusing or creating new ‘widgets’ based on FormAlchemy, and this generated the form HTML. This worked well, but you needed to know Python, and sometimes it was not clear how to tweak the resulting HTML.

Now with CKAN release 1.4.1 we have a new form infrastructure where the list of fields (and any extra validation required) is defined in a very simple schema, and the form is designed completely in an HTML template. This means that the much larger pool of web designers can tweak the drop-down combos etc. without having to touch any Python.

To give you a flavour of editing the package form, here is the default HTML template (as used on ckan.net): new_package_form.html and here are the instructions for the set-up required: Forms using Templates.

Legacy forms using FormAlchemy are deprecated, but can still be used with the current release, to ease transition. For more information, see the docs on Forms using FormAlchemy.