Comment on page


Version 1.0.1 | Last Updated May 31, 2022

Who the handbook is for

This handbook is for California State employees that want to publish open data on the State’s Open Data Portal (
The guidance on uploading and publishing data (sections 4 and 5) only applies to direct publishing on However, the rest of the guidance establishes minimum expectations for preparing data for publishing.
You can see a list of State organizations that maintain their own open data portals. Reach out to your portal administrator or data coordinator if you have questions about publishing on those portals.
Help us build guidance on geospatial data publishing
This guide does not yet address the specific details of publishing data on a geo portal (e.g. Sign up to give feedback and input as we develop guidance.

Feedback and questions welcome

This guidance will evolve and grow with feedback. Throughout, we've called out opportunities for feedback on additional guidance indicated with a megaphone emoji (
). Any feedback can be submitted through the CalData email ([email protected]).

A definition of open data

Before diving in, it's important to understand a common definition of open data. This handbook guides you through publishing in a way that is consistent with this definition.
Open data is data that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.
Building on this, open data must be openly licensed, accessible, machine readable, and published in an open format.
You can read more detail on what is open data, what is not open data, and value propositions for open data in the reference section of this handbook.

How to use the handbook

Publishing a new open dataset takes some planning and coordination, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. This handbook is designed to provide a reference guide you can return to as you go.
Get started by:
  1. 1.
    Skimming the handbook to familiarize yourself with its content
  2. 2.
    Starting immediately with the pre-publishing checklist
  3. 3.
    Bookmarking and coming back as you move through getting your data ready for publishing

How the handbook is organized

The handbook is divided into sections that line up to a general publishing process. The diagram below shows those steps and are listed down below with links to each section.
The image above shows a diagram of the steps in the publishing process. There are six steps. These are listed below with description and links to each section.
Publishing process steps
  1. 1.
    Review the pre-publishing checklist. Summarizes things to get started on and be aware of early in the process to minimize surprises later on.
  2. 2.
    Prepare data for publishing. Guidance on preparing your dataset for publishing including identifying and implementing any necessary cleaning and merging of data as needed.
  3. 3.
    Create metadata and data dictionary. Guidance on minimum metadata and documentation needed to make the dataset useful to others.
  4. 4.
    Upload the dataset. Guidance on uploading the dataset to the open data portal for those publishing directly to
  5. 5.
    Get final publishing approval. Guidance on getting final approval to make the dataset publicly available.
  6. 6.
    Update and maintain the dataset. Guidance on ways to make sure the dataset is updated and maintained appropriately.