Frictionless Data Specs Working Group

Last month, we had the first call of the Frictionless Data Specifications Working Group, starting a new chapter in the project. The call covered the status of the specifications to date, current adoption, upcoming technical pilots and partnerships, and how work will be organized going forward. In this post, I will lay out the purpose for this initiative, who is participating, and how you can get involved.

Frictionless Data Logo


Frictionless Data is a project encompassing a set of tooling and specifications to ease the transport and reuse of data. The specifications have grown out of a long engagement with issues around data interoperability, publication workflows, and analysis. For most of the history of this project, the specifications were curated by Rufus Pollock as one of several “Data Protocols” with input and assistance from individuals from Open Knowledge International and other organizations. As a result, the specifications have steadily gained traction across various projects and software developed by, among others, the Open Data Institute (ODI), Tesera Systems, Inc., Dataship, and Open Power System Data.

This adoption validates the approach we’ve taken: creating a minimum viable set of specifications to significantly improve transport of data. In reaching out to new users, we would like to make sure that we have resolved some of the outstanding edge cases to ensure that Data Packages can serve a solid foundation for many more types of data-intensive applications. This work is all the more important as “core” libraries in Python, Javascript, and Ruby are currently being refined, and newer libraries, like R, are being developed. With that in mind, we have organized a working group with a specific goal: to deliver a first, complete version of the specifications by end of this year.

Working Group

Members of the working group currently include:

Work will happen continue to happen asynchronously, in the open, without excessive rules around voting. Rather, we will listen to feedback and act in favor of consensus (without requiring it). Rufus Pollock, having led this work for many years with a strong focus on keeping it simple, will remain the curator; decisions of what stays or goes from the specs will rest with him. Having more eyes the specs with a variety of different perspectives will allow us to solidify and remove ambiguous statements, eliminate unnecessary repetition or logical errors, and, hopefully, achieve a minimal 1.0 by end of 2016. Beyond the core Data Package specifications, open topics might include defining further custom “profiles” (e.g. Fiscal Data Package), as well as potential extensions, including specifications for visualizations, statistics, and quality metrics for data.

Feedback Needed

Are you currently using or considering using the Frictionless Data specifications for your data or application? If so, please let us know!

Work is managed via an issue tracker on GitHub, which is the best way to raise specific questions. If you would like to specifically flag an issue for the Working Group, mention @frictionlessdata/specs-working-group in the comment. For general commentary on any aspect of Frictionless Data, you can leave a comment on the forum.

Thanks to Paul Walsh who provided the motivating text that served as the basis for this post and Jo Barratt who did much of organizing necessary to make it happen.