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

- June 13, 2013 in ckan, ckan 2.0, deployment, Deployments, hosting, 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

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

- May 23, 2013 in ckan, ckan 2.0,, Deployments, News, Open Source, Releases

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

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 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’s first major step into open source. All the code is available on Github and 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, takes advantage of the much improved information architecture, templating and distributed scalable authorization model. CKAN provides 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 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 2.0 beta has arrived!

- February 27, 2013 in ckan 2.0, News, Releases

Work on what has become the 2.0 release started back in June last year when we decided that a more user friendly cleaner simpler CKAN was the next step to raise the profile and usefulness of open data portals. We went back to basics and redesigned the theme to focus on the core parts of CKAN: discoverability of data for end users and better data management tools for publishers. Instructions to install or upgrade are below and you can go play around with it on – just create an account to try out all the funcitonality. You’ll see a more engaging search page that highlights the use of facets and search result sorting as well as the keyword search; a redesigned dataset page showcasing resources, tags, activity streams and re-use of data (the “related” tab); a new multistep dataset registration process to guide publishers as well as a scalable authorization model for managing access rights to datasets (more info below under ‘Organisations’).



We’ve simplified the authorisation model for datasets. Previously a dataset was ‘owned’ by the user who added it to the portal – edit or admin access to the dataset had to be manually added one by one. This made it harder to distribute management of datasets for large portals with numerous publisher accounts for multiple publishing organizations (e.g. Departments or Agencies). In 2.0, by default, datasets always belong to an organisation (e.g. Department of Health, Office of National Statistics etc) and access rights are automatically allocated depending on the organisation access level members have. So if your department has 1 admin, 5 editors (add/edit/delete datasets, but no member management access) and 10 members (can see org private datasets, member, editor, admin accounts, but not add or edit anything) then any dataset that one of the editors adds will be editable by any of the other 4 editors or the admin.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 12.16.54

Activity Streams

Datasets, users and groups now generate activity streams that can be ‘followed’.

Group activity screenshot


We have switched our templating engine to use Jinja2, making it easier to customize CKAN. We’ve found this to be much more designer friendly and intuitive than Genshi. It’s also generally cleaner and renders faster. We’re also able to extend templates (for example by extensions) in a less invasive way than previously using the {% ckan_extends %} template tag. Note: Jinja2 templates do not support the IGenshiStreamFilter extension point, so extensions should either extend templates or provide template helper functions via the ITemplateHelpers extension point.

Installing or upgrading

This first beta release is aimed mainly at developers, and is only available via source install. You can refer to the “Install from Source” instructions or the “Upgrading a source install” sections on the documentation depending on your needs. In either case, make sure to point the repository to the 2.0 release branch (release-v2.0):
  • For first time source installs, in section 2b use:
pip install -e 'git+'
  • For source install upgrades, in section 2 use:
git checkout release-v2.0
Note that this is a major version change and there are significant backwards incompatible changes, so if you are upgrading an existing instance make sure to backup your database before trying to upgrade it. Our supported extensions are currently being upgraded, and the degree of support for CKAN 2.0b varies depending on the extension. If you are using custom extensions on your instance, it is likely that you will need some work to upgrade them to 2.0. We are working on new documentation explaining how to upgrade from 1.X to 2.0, but in meantime to test this beta release we recommend disabling all extensions and enabling them one by one to see which ones will require updating. In case of doubt, feel free to send an email to the mailing list or ask on the IRC channel. As with all beta releases, you are bound to find bugs or things that need improvement. We are still working on the proper stable release, and collecting all pending issues on this milestone on GitHub Issues: We would love to hear any feedback and bug reports, feel free to send them to the mailing list or add an issue to GitHub.

What’s coming next

We’re now working on a dataset approval workflow for moving datasets from private to public state as well as support for bulk actions and harvesting management interfaces. We’ll also be adding tweaks and improvements as people use the beta and provide feedback, as well as activity stream support for organisations.