I have seen this acronym a lot on this website, but I don't know what it means! The main header of CKAN.org claims, "the world’s leading open-source data portal platform". What is a data portal platform? What operating systems does CKAN support? Is it standalone or can I run it in something like a web browser?

What does CKAN stand for and what does it do?

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    Judging by datahub.io, it is also a heaven for spammers. Not fun. Commented May 24, 2013 at 9:56
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    lol, granted almost a year later, but that issue has been resolved; only organizations can join now, which i think was the fix, but i'm not certain
    – albert
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


CKAN stands for Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network. CKAN is a self-described data portal platform that allows an organization to manage, publish, and share data and for others to find and use that data.

In general, data portal platforms provide a structured solution of software, policies, and guidelines that let an organization (often a government entity) share data. The services embedded in these platforms may include data management, content management, data publishing, data discovery, visualization, and workflow. Other examples of such products include Socrata (http://www.socrata.com/), Junar (http://www.junar.com/), DKAN (http://drupal.org/project/dkan), and the Open Government Platform (http://www.opengovplatform.org/).

CKAN installation guidelines are detailed on the site at http://docs.ckan.org/en/latest/maintaining/installing/index.html

You can run it standalone (as noted above) or in a hosted instance. CKAN provides a hosted service, which lets you essentially run the software in an instance on their servers (more at http://ckan.org/datasuite/services/hosted-slas/).

(Disclaimer: I am the Evangelist for Data.gov which participates in OGPL. Data.gov also utilizes CKAN and Socrata.)

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    +1 this is a great answer. You should create the Tag Wiki for CKAN! Commented May 16, 2013 at 0:56
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    In case anyone runs across this acronym in a historical context, CKAN originally referred to both the software and the instance hosted by OKFN. That hosted instance has since been renamed The Data Hub and moved to datahub.io and the term refers solely to the software.
    – Tom Morris
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 18:45

CKAN is an open-source software platform for publishing data. data.gov.uk is one of many examples where it's used to help implement 'open government data' programmes (in this case, from the UK government). It's also used to publish, e.g., scientific data.

The first ever instance of CKAN was originally called 'The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network' and was at ckan.net - hence the name. This is the history of the name, but the software is just called CKAN. The old ckan.net is still running at datahub.io.

CKAN development targets Ubuntu Linux but it can also be installed on most other common operating systems. It's a web platform so users (both publishers and data users) will interact with it via a web interface, though other applications can interact with it via its APIs.

(Disclaimer: I work for the Open Knowledge Foundation, which maintains CKAN.)


I tell folks that it is the Drupal or Wordpress of data catalogs. Or an open source Socrata.

(Disclaimer - I am the Sr. API Strategist for GSA)

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