Last week, the World Bank launched a much-improved version of its Open Data Catalog. We first discussed our plans for the new catalog in a blog post a few months ago, as the next step in the open data principles that we outlined last year.
What's new in the data catalog? Some of the changes are obvious. For starters, the catalog is more user-friendly. All the essential information is available in a one-page list, which you can sort by name, popularity, or date. You can access bulk downloads, APIs or query tools from the same page with a single click. And you can see all the available metadata without having to visit separate pages on various sites.
The new catalog is also searchable. Full text search returns results by searching the catalog metadata (search of complete datasets is coming soon), and faceted search lets you narrow results by Topic, Coverage, Periodicity, or Access (bulk download, API, Mobile app or Query tool).
Other improvements may be less obvious. For one, the new data catalog has a machine-readable API, which means that programmers can write apps and other programs to access the catalog directly, much as they've been doing with many datasets through the data API.
Second, the new catalog is capable of automatically incorporating other data catalogs, like World Bank Finances, that have their own machine-readable APIs. That means that you can search these datasets from a single location instead of going to separate catalogs. In the future, we hope to add more catalogs to create a federated, ecosystem of all datasets available through the Open Data Initiative.
The catalog is multi-lingual ready and we will be rolling in other languages in the coming months.
Finally, we invested a lot of effort to improve the types and amount of metadata available for each dataset, and make sure it's up to date. Many thanks go to World Bank staff who curate these datasets and helped us with the metadata review. Ensuring that the catalog stays up to date is, of course, an ongoing effort, and during the rest of 2013 we'll be putting new policies in place to help manage the catalog efficiently.
Notice Something Missing?
Having trouble finding the data you're looking for? The new data catalog is also fully integrated with the Bank's online help desk, which also launched a couple of weeks ago. The online help desk includes an idea forum where you can suggest new datasets. Or, if you simply have a question, you can click the "Help/Feedback" button in the bottom right corner to send a question to our help desk staff.