Choosing an Open Data Publishing Platform

(Beth Noveck) #1


Am looking for experienced practitioners who can opine about the relative merits of using Socrata or another platform to publish open data. Was asked the question by a US federal official and want to try to make an introduction. Thanks, Beth

(Bernhard Krabina) #2

I don’t know Socrata, but in Europe CKAN is the de-facto standard. I have basic CKAN knowledge, but can connect to professionals. In my view is a great open data publishing platform, too.

(Beth Noveck) #3

Thanks. DKAN is the middle point that many are using here. @andrewhoppin is the go to guy on DKAN. I’ll pass your name along to the folks here who are asking and trying to know what to do pick. Meanwhile I have another email in my outbox waiting to go to you!

(Bernhard Krabina) #4

I only know of the Cities of Bonn and Köln that use DCAN. Seems the main reason for chosing DCAN is the quite different hosting environment/setup needed for CKAN. Many times CKAN is bundled with CMS-solutions (DCAN, Wordpress or in the case of with Liferay).

(Raul Melendez) #5

DKAN is used in Germany by at least Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Mannheim, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Bielefeld University, and Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr.

I have a bias since I work directly on DKAN and have a SaaS business around DKAN, and we believe both CKAN and Socrata can great options for some governments for different reasons, but we find that governments choose DKAN over CKAN or Socrata when at least two of the following criteria are important:

  • No “vendor lock-in” and innovation potential of fully open-source software, and/or

  • Already use Drupal for content management, and/or

  • Need a turnkey SaaS solution with enterprise-grade support (“SLA” here in the US), and/or

  • Want to drive data engagement via data storytelling, group management and data visualization and/or

  • Already use GovDelivery for digital communications (in the US and UK)

(Matthew Gotth-Olsen) #6

Louisville just recently went through the selection process for choosing an Open Data solution. I would be more than happy to discuss our decision in choosing DKAN as our preferred method/ecosystem for publishing.

One of the key benefits, in my mind is that DKAN directly supports Open Data in more than just a logistical capability. It supports the general “open” ethos, open source, open data, transparency and accountability. It aligns with our internal skillset of Drupal (which also has a host of benefits), and all the development for it is out in the open on GitHub. Everyone that utilizes DKAN contributes to the greater success of the whole (other cities, countries, agencies), which ultimately builds a stronger and more maintainable solution. By utilizing Drupal, DKAN inherits the security, extensibility, and availability of developers from the Drupal community.

DKAN does not pay lip service to the idea of being “open”. You’re free to download the product and run it yourself if you like at zero cost. Kick the tires, see if it fits into your strategy. If you don’t have the staffing to support it, NuCivic offers at as an extremely affordable Software as a Service.

DKAN is used world-wide in a variety of municipalities, countries and organizations. I highly recommend it.

If you have any other specific questions, please let me know.

(Bernhard Krabina) #7

@andrewhoppin and @matthew - I agree on the advantages of being very close to Drupal, a great open-source CMS and I also agree that often the PHPbased approach is something that IT departments like more then the more sophisticated/complex environment of CKAN.

CKAN itself is mostly connected to some CMS as I have mentioned.

But regarding the opennes factor and enterprise-garde support, CKAN is a very good choice, too. Open Knowlege has founded a company to provide more professional support called Viderum.

I don’t know much about Socrata, though. Any experiences?

(Bernhard Krabina) #8

By the way, there is also

(Steven De Costa) #9

Drupal is an open source web experience management system, so tailored to users who need to publish content intended for a ‘web experience’. DKAN as maintained by nucivic is a Drupal distribution configured with modules which give it data management features. And such bells, whistles and trappings that make it more desirable as a data portal.

Socrata is like the antithesis of open. Venture capital funded and likely staffed by more sales and ‘customer success managers’ than coders. Every investment you make will go toward whatever corporate goal they have to generate a return to the VC backers and owners. Just ask those who no longer work at Socrata what they think… it can be illuminating.

OpenDataSoft is rock star material and super cool. But, locked down below the API so kinda hard to see how it conforms to principles needed for Openness.

CKAN is open source and open everything, just like Drupal. But it’s focus is entirely on being an open data management system so there is no risk of the project diverting from its steady course.

Those who choose CKAN, and many do, join an exclusively open community of best practice practitioners working to advance the possibilities and impact of open data worldwide. Those who choose anything else are just running a procurement process and ticking off against selection criteria. (Not that there is anything wrong with that)

I’ve migrated one government agency from Socrata to CKAN and I think they probably felt something like ecstacy after being released from the burden of their fees whilst also enjoying the liberation of defining their own roadmap and next steps.

I build Drupal sites for Government clients, but I’d never suggest anything other than CKAN for a data portal. :slight_smile:

IODC this week was amazing. CKANCon earlier this week was incredible. I’ve never felt more proud to be a contributing member of the open data community and to talk to so many people at the CKAN booth.

What we do in life, with passion, becomes what we love. What we do together as a community, with passion, becomes our future.

(J. Albert Bowden) #10

Open Source solutions:
jkan - jekyll flavored ckan
wordpress opendata - hosts ckan and your data for you…not ideal in long term, but fabulous for a trial run for your organization
also, here’s ckan vs. socrata - relevant information

(Graeme Jones) #11


“not ideal in long term”
specific issues like max datasets or max total storage?
i have redirected as proof of concept as govt are largely microsoft and umbraco cms

(J. Albert Bowden) #12

not ideal in the longterm…if you’re going to be an open data publisher for years to come.

this is a personal opinion, and certainly doesn’t reflect any negativity on, but I believe that we all should own our data, so that includes organizations standing up their own instances of ckan and running them internally. is a great service, and I like that you are pointing your url to it. again, shouldn’t reflect poorly on

another thing to add, aside from taking ownership, you are also eliminating a single point of failure from your chain: i have no reason to think will go away anytime soon, but odds are that at some point in our lifetime, it will either have to start charging to cover maintenance fees, close down because it costs to much, etc.

(Javier Pajaro) #13


Let me contribute to the thread. Did you know

Junar is used by 70+ governments in LATAM and the US.

In the US, some of the cities using Junar are: palo alto, sacramento, arlington, pasadena, mesa, cupertino and san jose.

In LATAM , Junar is used by cities and ministries in Chile, Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina.

Some examples

Among its benefits are:

  1. Low TCO and short T-2-M. Launching an open data portal take less than a month.

  2. API for all the data. Not just some data.

  3. Collect data from webservices and live sources (for example sensors). Not just static files. Do data transformations on the fly.

  4. Publish your data as charts and maps to help distict audiencies to understand your data.

  5. Horizontally integrated. Modules and apps on top of open data api are built by Junar partners. Example

  6. LOD and BigData modules for joining and aggregating your data in a flexible way.

  7. Integrate open data portal to wordpress or the CMS of your preference

My 2 cents.

Regards, Javier.
Junar CTO and co-founder

(Stepan Soukenik) #14

Hi @beth,

I think that the first thing to decide is to use an open source solution, be it any of the mentioned above. Both CKAN and DKAN can answer your issues and then it is primarily a matter of technology and “philosophical” approach behind your open data strategy.

I think that open data means much more than just good data organization, format, and search capabilities of datastores and datasets. Then it would be only used by geeks.

I think that open data means transparency, connecting governments with citizens,and strong and good UX for various target groups - students, businesses, experts, etc. Therefore I believe that only data management and content management tied together will really bring the value to the organization, hereby supporting what @matthew and rmelendez suggested.


(Ivan Begtin) #15

Hi @beth

Here in Russia we use both CKAN and DKAN to publish data. CKAN is more advanced, DKAN is easier to install and use.

Best Regards,