Site improvements – nearly invisible, but worth noting


October 11, 2016

You may have noticed a change to our site’s landing page this week: there’s only one search window now instead of searches for “open data,” “open information,” and “open government.” While it may seem minor, it is the result of months of work done behind the scenes. Here’s why it’s such a big deal: to be a single window into a variety of Government of Canada information and data holdings, we needed a common framework, properly called a metadata schema, for information that’s both structured (i.e., datasets) and unstructured (what we usually call “digital resources,” like reports and research).

These changes came from you – we’re always happy when we can be responsive to the people who use our site! The division between data and information is sometimes blurry, and you shouldn’t have to worry about which it is when you first get to – you should just find what you’re looking for. Now data and information featured on our site will have the same descriptive information, so you can filter not only by organization, but by keywords, subject, format and more.

This marks the end of the pilot phase of our open information portal. We are now replacing the pilot with a better tool, and rebuilding the collection of documents. The first step is a higher standard for metadata – i.e., the contextual information that makes it easier for you to both search for information and to understand what you are getting before you download it. So while we’re starting with fewer information resources, this will mean better information and data that’s easier to find. As well, don’t forget that you can still find any documents that haven’t yet been relisted by visiting the original sources (e.g., Government of Canada Publications and Collections Canada).

All told, this is one part of our work to build a solid foundation for a better user experience, with improved access to higher-quality information. Our work will help make sure that there’s no wrong door to government information.

The Open Government Team

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Ok it's great to see the search engine will use [sic] "a higher standard for metadata" but how about utilizing long known search engine technologies like automatic spelling error correction, if you use other common web based search engines like google, bing, etc. You'll notice spelling mistakes are still processed but you get the second line saying did you mean ? with the correct spelling.

Then maybe you could add natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages, but a simple spelling error correction would be good starting point. Also what methods are you using to increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results ?

Disappointed to see RSS job bank access has been dropped in favour of a clunky GUI.

Thank you for your comment. We are continuously trying to improve our portal and your feedback is important to us.

Momin, from the Open Government team.



Hey - it looks like the link to the metadata schema is broken. We get the message 'Dataset Deleted - This record has been removed from' Thanks

Good post! I read your blog often and you always post excellent content. I posted this article on Facebook and my followers like it. Thanks for writing this!

Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

Thanks for your comment Amandadox - we appreciate the feedback!
If there are specific topics you think we should try to cover, please let us know.
Karin - the open-ouvert team