A Dataset is a document for describing & storing structured data. Dataset documents are designed to satisfy the FAIR principle of being Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, in relation to other dataset documents, and related-but-separate technologies such as data catalogs, HTTP API’s, and data package formats Datasets are designed to be stored and distributed on content-addressed (identify-by-hash) systems The dataset document definition is built from a research-first principle, valuing direct interoperability with existing standards over novel definitions or specifications.

The main implementation of dataset is avialable at If you have any concerns or questions, We’d be delighted if you filed an issue.

Dataset Components:

A Dataset is broken into several components. Each component has a different purpose:

component purpose
body location of dataset data. The subject all other componets are about
commit versioning information for this dataset at a specific point in time
meta descriptive metadata
structure machine-oriented metadata for interpreting body
transform description of an executed script that resulted in this dataset
viz template details for visually representing this dataset

Each component is described in detail below.


Body is the principle content of a dataset. A dataset body is the subject which all other fields describe and qualify.

Supported Data Formats:

  • csv - comma-separated values
  • json - javascript object notation
  • cbor - concise binary object representation

The structure of the data stored is arbitrary, with one important exception: the top level of body must be either an object or an array. scalar types like int, bool, float, or strings are not valid types. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly valid to wrap a scalar type (for example, a string) in an array to obtain a valid body.


Commit encapsulates information about changes to a dataset in relation to other entries in a given history. Commit is directly analogous to the concept of a Commit Message in the git version control system. A full commit defines the administrative metadata of a dataset, answering “who made this dataset, when, and why”.

commit fields:

name type description
author User author of this commit
message string an optional message that provides detail about changes made
qri string this commit’s qri kind, value should always be cm:0
signature string base58-encoded bytes of body checksum
timestamp string time this dataset was created with timezone offset
title string title of the commit. should be a short description of

additional data types:



    "id": "user_id_12340584",
    "fullname": "sean carter",
    "email": "[email protected]"


Meta contains human-readable descriptive metadata that qualifies and distinguishes a dataset. Well-defined Meta should aid in making datasets Findable by describing a dataset in generalizable taxonomies that can aggregate across other dataset documents. Because dataset documents are intended to interoperate with many other data storage and cataloging systems, meta fields and conventions are derived from existing metadata formats whenever possible.

All of the meta fields below must be well-formed valid values. However: The Meta section of a dataset supports arbitrary metadata. This means you can place additional values not listed here & qri will store them as-is, without any additional validation.

Another important note here: qri software doesn’t leverage things like identifier, downloadPath, homePath, etc.. Qri considers all fields here descriptive metadata, as opposted to structural metadata. In practice this means qri User interfaces may leverage the meta component for the purposes of correlation and display. Information stored in the meta section is not intended for use by machines to interpret the dataset. For example, setting the identifier is of no significance to qri, it’s included here for interoperability with other specifications like DCAT

meta fields:

name type description
accessPath string url or location to access this dataset.
accrualPeriodicity string frequency with which dataset changes. Must be an ISO 8601 repeating duration
citations []Citation array of assets used to build this dataset
contributors []User description
description string roughly a paragraph of human-readable text that provides context for the dataset
downloadPath string URL or other path string to where to download this dataset
homePath string URL or other path string to a “landing page” resource that explains the dataset
identifier string identifer for the dataset
keywords []string string of “tags” to connect this dataset with other datasets that carry similar keywords
language []string array of languages this dataset is written, in ISO 639-1 format, ordered by most-to-least dominant
license License the legal licensing agreement this dataset is released under
title string title of the dataset
theme []string “categories” this dataset should be filed under. Keywords should draw out specific keywords, theme entires should speak to the broader family of datasets this dataset is part of
version string version identifier string

additional data types:



    "name" : "sean carter",
    "url" : "",
    "email" : "[email protected]"



    "type" : "CC-BY-2",
    "url" : ""


Structure defines the characteristics of a dataset document necessary for a machine to interpret the dataset body. Structure fields are things like the encoding data format (JSON,CSV,etc.), length of the dataset body in bytes, stored in a rigid form intended for machine use. A well defined structure & accompanying software should allow the end user to spend more time focusing on the data itself.

Two dataset documents that both have a defined structure will have some degree of natural interoperability, depending first on the amount of detail provided in a dataset’s structure, and then by the natural comparibilty of the datasets.

structure fields:

name type description
checksum string bas58-encoded multihash checksum of the entire data file. this structure points to. This is different from IPFS hashes, which are calculated after breaking the file into blocks
compression string specifies any compression on the source data, if empty assume no compression. warning: not yet implemented in qri
encoding string specifics character encoding, assumes utf-8 if not specified
errCount int the number of errors returned by validating data against schema.
entries int number of top-level entries in the dataset. analogous to the number of rows in a table
format string specifies the format of the raw data type by file extension. Must be one of: json
formatConfig object removes as much ambiguity as possible about how to interpret the speficied format. Properties of this object depend on the format field
length int length of the data object in bytes
schema jsonSchema the schema definition for the dataset body, schemas are defined using the IETF json-schema specification. for more info on json-schema see:


Transform is a record of executing a transformation on data. Transforms can theoretically be anything from an SQL query, a jupyter notebook, the state of an ETL pipeline, etc, so long as the input is zero or more datasets, and the output is a single dataset Ideally, transforms should contain all the machine-necessary bits to deterministicly execute the algorithm referenced in “ScriptPath”.

transform fields:

name type description
scriptPath string the path to the script that produced this transformation
syntax string langauge this transform is written in. Only “skylark” is currently supported
syntaxVersion string an identifier for the application and version number that produced the result
config object any configuration that would affect the resulting hash. transformations may use values present in config to perform their operations
resources object map of all datasets transform depends on with both name and commit paths


Viz stores configuration data related to representing a dataset as a visualization

viz fields:

name type description
format string designates the visualization configuration syntax, currently only html is accepted
scriptPath string location of script that generates the vizualization