[ckan-discuss] CKAN as a general-purpose cataloging tool?

Mark Wainwright mark.wainwright at okfn.org
Tue May 28 16:20:01 BST 2013

Hi Alan,

It sounds to me as if CKAN would have no problem with the job you
describe - there is no prescription on what is in a 'dataset' and they
can be very heterogeneous. Perhaps also relevantly, it is possible for
one CKAN instance to have different types of dataset which have
different metadata schemas.

It would be possible to write a custom theme that used different words
for 'dataset', 'resource' etc, but I'm not sure it would be worth the
effort. Also my guess is that it would be more work to change CKAN's
URL structure if that were a problem (e.g. /dataset by default returns
a list of datasets).

Mark Wainwright

On 23/05/2013, Allan Hollander <adhollander at ucdavis.edu> wrote:
> Hi all -- I would like some feedback as whether it would be wise to use
> CKAN as a tool to catalog a heterogeneous set of resources, some of
> which are datasets in a strict sense and some of which are not. To
> elaborate, my information set includes a number of spatial and
> non-spatial datasets that all relate to environmental indicators on
> sustainability. The indicators themselves however need their own entry
> in the system, as does each member of a list of environmental issues to
> which these indicators in turn relate. There are other pieces to our
> information set but that gives the idea. In general, representing the
> linkages between these diverse resources will be important to our web
> application.
> It seems based on my read of its architecture CKAN could be used for
> this task provided one changes its nomenclature. That is, everywhere
> where the term "dataset" is used in the interface replace (through
> template overrides) this text with "resource" and everywhere where
> "resource" is used replace this with say "resource component". The
> different broad categories of information sets (e.g. datasets,
> indicators, issues, bibliographic sources...) would be bundled together
> as CKAN groups. The relationships between each of these resources would
> be encoded using the package_relationships API (though I'd probably add
> a few more relationship types to the hardcoded list of these).
> Does this sound like a feasible approach to using CKAN to build a portal
> for my information set? I would love to take advantage of all the
> beautiful UI work that has gone into CKAN 2.0, especially including the
> faceted browsing and the geospatial search.
> Thanks,
> Allan Hollander
> Information Center for the Environment
> University of California, Davis
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