Data Resource

A simple format to describe and package a single data resource such as a individual table or file.

Author(s) Paul Walsh, Rufus Pollock,
Media type application/vnd.dataresource+json
JSON Schema (for spec)
Version 1.0-rc.2
Last Updated 02 May 2017
Created 11 December 2016


The key words MUST, MUST NOT, REQUIRED, SHALL, SHALL NOT, SHOULD, SHOULD NOT, RECOMMENDED, MAY, and OPTIONAL in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.


The Data Resource format describes a data resource such as an individual file or table.

The essence of a Data Resource is a locator for the data it describes.

A range of other properties can be declared to provide a richer set of metadata.


A minimal Data Resource looks as follows:

With data accessible via the local filesystem.

  "path": "resource-path.csv"

With data accessible via http.

  "path": ""

A minimal Data Resource pointing to some inline data looks as follows.

  "data": {
    "resource-name-data": [
      {"a": 1, "b": 2}

A comprehensive Data Resource example with all required, recommended and optional properties looks as follows.

  "name": "solar-system",
  "path": "",
  "title": "The Solar System",
  "description": "My favourite data about the solar system.",
  "format": "csv",
  "mediatype": "text/csv",
  "encoding": "utf-8",
  "bytes": 1,
  "hash": "",
  "schema": "",
  "sources": "",
  "licenses": ""


A Data Resource descriptor MUST be a valid JSON object. (JSON is defined in RFC 4627).

Key properties of the descriptor are described below. A descriptor MAY include any number of properties in additional to those described below as required and optional properties.

Data Location

A resource MUST contain a property describing the location of the data associated to the resource. The location of resource data MUST be specified by the presence of one (and only one) of these two properties:

  • path: for data in files located online or locally on disk.
  • data: for data inline in the descriptor itself.

path Data in Files

path MUST be a string -- or an array of strings (see "Data in Multiple Files"). Each string MUST be a "url-or-path" as defined in the next section.

URL or Path

A "url-or-path" is a string with the following additional constraints:

  • MUST either be a URL or a POSIX path
  • URLs MUST be fully qualified. MUST be using either http or https scheme. (Absence of a scheme indicates MUST be a POSIX path)
  • POSIX paths (unix-style with / as separator) are supported for referencing local files, with the security restraint that they MUST be relative siblings or children of the descriptor. Absolute paths (/) and relative parent paths (../) MUST NOT be used, and implementations SHOULD NOT support these path types.


# fully qualified url
"path": ""

# relative path
# note: this will work both as a relative path on disk and on online
"path": "my-data-directory/my-csv.csv"

SECURITY: / (absolute path) and ../ (relative parent path) are forbidden to avoid security vulnerabilities when implementing data package tools. These limitations on resource path ensure that resource paths only point to files within the data package directory and its subdirectories. This prevents data package tools being exploited by a malicious user to gain unintended access to sensitive information. For example, suppose a data package hosting service stores packages on disk and allows access via an API. A malicious user uploads a data package with a resource path like /etc/passwd. The user then requests the data for that resource and the server naively opens /etc/passwd and returns that data to the caller.

IMPLEMENTOR: prior to release 1.0.0-beta.18 (Nov 17 2016) there was a url property distinct from path. In order to support backwards compatability, implementors MAY want to automatically convert a url property to a path property and issue a warning.

Data in Multiple Files

Usually, a resource will have only a single file associated to it. However, sometimes it may be convenient to have a single resource whose data is split across multiple files -- perhaps the data is large and having it in one file would be inconvenient.

To support this use case the path property MAY be an array of strings rather than a single string:

"path": [ "myfile1.csv", "myfile2.csv" ]

It is NOT permitted to mix fully qualified URLs and relative paths in a path array: strings MUST either all be relative paths or all URLs.

NOTE: all files in the array MUST be similar in terms of structure, format etc. Implementors MUST be able to concatenate together the files in the simplest way and treat the result as one large file. For tabular data there is the issue of header rows. See the Tabular Data Package spec for more on this.

data Inline Data

Resource data rather than being stored in external files can be shipped 'inline' on a Resource using the data property.

The value of the data property can be any type of data. However, restrictions of JSON require that the value be a string so for binary data you will need to encode (e.g. to Base64). Information on the type and encoding of the value of the data property SHOULD be provided by the format (or mediatype) property and the encoding property.

Specifically: the value of the data property MUST be:

  • EITHER: a JSON array or object - the data is then assumed to be JSON data and SHOULD be processed as such
  • OR: a JSON string - in this case the format or mediatype properties MUST be provided.

Thus, a consumer of resource object MAY assume if no format or mediatype property is provided that the data is JSON and attempt to process it as such.

Examples 1 - inline JSON:

   "resources": [
        "format": "json",
        # some json data e.g.
        "data": [
           { "a": 1, "b": 2 },
           { .... }

Example 2 - inline CSV:

   "resources": [
        "format": "csv",
        "data": "A,B,C\n1,2,3\n4,5,6"

Metadata Properties

Required Properties

A descriptor MUST contain the following properties:


A resource MUST contain a name property. The name is a simple name or identifier to be used for this resource.

  • If present, the name MUST be unique amongst all resources in this data package.
  • It MUST consist only of lowercase alphanumeric characters plus ".", "-" and "_".
  • It would be usual for the name to correspond to the file name (minus the extension) of the data file the resource describes.


A string identifying the profile of this descriptor as per the profiles specification.


  "profile": "tabular-data-resource"
  "profile": ""

Optional Properties

A descriptor MAY contain any number of additional properties. Common properties include:

  • title: a title or label for the resource.
  • description: a description of the resource.
  • format: 'csv', 'xls', 'json' etc. Would be expected to be the standard file extension for this type of resource.
  • mediatype: the mediatype/mimetype of the resource e.g. 'text/csv', 'application/'
  • encoding: specify the character encoding of the resource's data file. The values should be one of the "Preferred MIME Names" for a character encoding registered with IANA. If no value for this key is specified then the default is UTF-8.
  • bytes: size of the file in bytes
  • hash: the MD5 hash for this resource. Other algorithms can be indicated by prefixing the hash's value with the algorithm name in lower-case. For example:

    "hash": "sha1:8843d7f92416211de9ebb963ff4ce28125932878"
  • sources: as for Data Package metadata.

  • licenses: as for Data Package metadata. If not specified the resource inherits from the data package.

Resource Schemas

A Data Resource MAY have a schema property to describe the schema of the resource data.

The value for the schema property on a resource MUST be an object representing the schema OR a string that identifies the location of the schema.

If a string it must be a url-or-path as defined above, that is a fully qualified http URL or a relative POSIX path. The file at the the location specified by this url-or-path string MUST be a JSON document containing the schema.

NOTE: the Data Package specification places no restrictions on the form of the schema Object. This flexibility enables specific communities to define schemas appropriate for the data they manage. As an example, the Tabular Data Package specification requires the schema to conform to Table Schema.


See the Changelog for information.


The following implementations are available for data-resource:

See the implementation page for further information on writing an implementation of a Frictionless Data specification.

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