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The Open Spending Revamp

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Yoana Popova
4 mins read

At Datopian, we've long been passionate about the potential of open data to foster transparency, informed decision-making, and innovation. We don’t just recognize the power and the potential of open data - they're at the core of our ethos. From this conviction sprang our idea to “breathe new life” into OpenSpending, a global repository of financial records. Our goal? To transform this substantial data collection into a dynamic, user-friendly platform that promotes transparency and accessibility.

What is OpenSpending?

OpenSpending serves as an open, free platform enabling users to search, visualize, and analyze fiscal data within the public domain, such as government’s revenue, budgets, spending and procurements data. Read more about OpenSpending here.

Meet PortalJS

At the helm of this transformation is our PortalJS team, a creative group of developers working behind our cutting-edge PortalJS framework. At Datopian, data isn't just numbers or statistics - it's a story waiting to be unearthed, a narrative waiting to be told. PortalJS makes this possible. Along with our President Rufus Pollock, who’s the original creator of OpenSpending, our talented PortalJS team has taken on the exciting challenge of transforming OpenSpending. We're all fired up about open data and we're big on fresh ideas!

Step into the future with PortalJS

🌀 PortalJS is your key to rapidly build rich data portal frontends using a modern frontend approach. From showcasing a singular dataset to curating a comprehensive data catalog or portal, PortalJS's versatility allows you to narrate your data story your way. Built in JavaScript and React on top of the popular Next.js framework, PortalJS utilizes a "decoupled" approach - a design that keeps the frontend distinct from the backend, interacting via an API. This division is not just strategic; it's empowering. It offers an unmatched flexibility that makes PortalJS compatible with any backend, all while providing seamless, out-of-the-box support for CKAN.

☁️ Stage 1. The Data Migration: A Safe New Home for Data

Imagine the task of carefully relocating every book in a well-stocked library due to an extensive renovation - every single book needs to be moved to a safer, more secure location. Our initial task was somewhat similar: we migrated the sizable Open Spending data files to Cloudflare's R2 Storage bucket. Thanks to this advanced technology, we've not only secured the vast data collection but also prepared it for public access - a crucial step towards democratizing data.

OpenSpending Home page

🔍 Stage 2: Implementing a Comprehensive Data Catalog

Now picture a library brimming with thousands of books, yet lacking a catalog - quite overwhelming, isn't it? A library without a way to find books would be chaotic, and so would a vast data collection like the OpenSpending one. So, our second task was to implement a data catalog with robust search and filter capabilities to effortlessly locate data. With an innovative indexing system, users can quickly find the data they need. Picture it - a couple of clicks here, a few keywords there, and voila, you've got the data you need!

🎉 Stage 3: The Launch

Finally, following a journey of anticipation, dedication, and many cups of coffee, we reached our grand finale: the launch of the revamped OpenSpending platform.

This is Just the Beginning: v0.1

The current transformation of OpenSpending is an important milestone, but it's only the beginning. We're at version 0.1, indicating the start of our commitment to continuous development and improvement of the platform.

OpenSpending datasets page

Comparing Past and Present

To truly appreciate the transformation that OpenSpending has undergone, you can have a look at the previous website's version archived here:

OpenSpending old page See more on Web Archive

The Journey Continues…

But the story doesn't end here. The new site comes packed with surprises, like the ability to preview and explore data files without leaving the platform. It’s like giving you a sneak peek of the book before you borrow it from the library!

Data visualization

Our PortalJS team, like diligent librarians, keeps adding more “books” to the “library” - they continue to add more data to the repository, consistently enriching the data resources.

What’s next?

Our future plans include another significant data migration. We're set to move the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) data to R2. This transition will allow us to extend the repository with even more valuable datasets.

Moreover, our ongoing efforts include continual updates to the dataset collection. In the coming months, expect to see a broader range of datasets being made available on OpenSpending. This upcoming expansion of datasets promises to unlock new possibilities for analysis, research, and insights.

So, stay tuned! There are more exciting developments on the horizon as we continue to evolve and expand the "library".


We're incredibly proud of the hard work our team has put in and the transformative results we've achieved. We warmly invite you to visit OpenSpending, explore our work, and share your insights. Together, we are democratizing access to global financial data. One data point at a time. If you want to get involved or you have suggestions for improvements, feel free to contact us at [email protected].

About OpenSpending

OpenSpending consists of two components. On one side, we have the data - an extensive, continually expanding collection of financial records stored as GitHub repositories . On the other side, we have the platform itself, the interactive, user-friendly platform that we are currently enhancing at []

Founded in 2009 as "Where Does My Money Go?", OpenSpending has been playing an instrumental role in publishing open budget and spending data from governments worldwide. Since 2015, much of OpenSpending's development has been in collaboration with GIFT. This partnership has led to the adoption of the Fiscal Data Package by multiple countries - a data standard for a wide range of public financial data.

Datopian took up the stewardship of the OpenSpending platform in 2020.

We are the CKAN experts.

Datopian are the co-creators, co-stewards, and one of the main developers of CKAN. We design, develop and scale CKAN solutions for everyone from government to the Fortune 500. We also monitor client use cases for data to ensure that CKAN is responding to genuine challenges faced by real organizations.

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