Open Data Standards

Structured Data

Structured data is usually in the form of text but follows a specific format giving it machine readability. Some more complex formats may be in binary format such as maps and GIS related files. You will find different formats in the Open Data listing. This section covers some of the popular formats and provides some tips on how to work with them.


The easiest method for working with a Comma-Separated Values (CSV) file is to use a spreadsheet application such as OpenOffice Calc or Microsoft Excel. Simply launch the application and open the .csv file to launch the application’s CSV import wizard.


JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a structured Open Data format that is lightweight and very well suited for mobile applications. It is used either natively or as a library available in most web and mobile development languages. Detailed information on JSON can be found on the official JSON web site.


XML (eXtensible Markup Language) defines a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification.


Geo Formats


ESRI Shapefiles (SHP) are popular geospatial, vector data files which are accompanied by a series of files necessary to use the SHP file.

Based on the Government of Canada Data Standards


Published date: 
May 30, 2018

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