OpenSpending For Dummies


Hello everybody!

OpenSpending is a great resourse. But it will be useful, if even non-programmer can use it. If ordinary people can make visualisation budgets of their towns and provinces, we can change something in the world.

So, my problem. I want to recive such visualisation like on (with circles, it can be without map). Now I have a such document

Could somebody help me to achive a result? May be somebody can give a detailed instruction, step by step, what should I do. Or just a links on such instructions? I can’t find it myself.

Maybe it will be useful for other persons. I promise that I’ll translate this instruction on russian and will popularize open data in Russia. Together we can change the world!


Hi ivmedvedev !

Thank you for your very positive message, we also want to change the world!
So about OpenSpending, the platform is currently on a read-only mode, the reason is we’re revamping it and make it even better. It implies that the platform and its current datasets are secured while we’re doing some significant changes to the core code base.

But don’t worry, the new OpenSpending import tool will open at the beginning of february and we would very much like to work with you and your dataset(s) to test the new import and visualisation sets. @danfowler is the person leading on the data modeling and standard, so if you have any question regarding your dataset(s) you can reach to him!

In addition, we’ll happy to help you out with the new process and guide you step by step. Would you agree to do that together once the new import platform is out ? And we would love to have a guide in Russian too ! ; )

Many thanks!

OpenSpending Project Manager


Hi @ivmedvedev I’m super keen to help out when you’re ready!


CecileLG, good afternoon!

Thanks for your reply!

Ok, I’ll wait when you’ll finish revamping of the platform, after that I’ll to keep in touch with @danfowler

If you need any help, don’t hesitate contact me!


Daniel, good afternoon!

I have found the answer on question about columns ( So, I should have in my csv-file the following columns: level1_id, level1_title, level2_id, level2_title, amount, budget_date.

Question: should I add in my csv-file first line with total budget?


Hi @ivmedvedev, first, sorry for the confusion about OpenSpending being in read-only mode. The switchover was a bit delayed, and a message was sent out to the OpenSpending mailing list only a few days before it actually happened. For big changes in the future like this, we’ll try to give more notice.

To your question: with the new OpenSpending, we’re trying to be less prescriptive of how you actually structure your CSV file (e.g. what you name your columns, etc.). Rather, we will give you tools to model the actual columns to financial concepts like amount, date, project, etc. The headers in the example you linked to is only an example to demonstrate a particular feature of the Fiscal Data Package.

Actually, the best way I can help you is if you can actually share a link to your original CSV file. Is that possible?


Hello, Daniel!

I’ve translated my file in English. Now, it’s ready.

This is direct link:

This is links for view:

Is everything ok with the file?


Hi @ivmedvedev !

We had a look at your dataset and it looks fine, thanks so much for sharing it !
There’s one thing though that needs to be changed to be compatible with the current data format accepted by the tool, it’s the Amount column.

To map correctly the data in the new tool, the Amount column should be identified as a number, and it’s currently not the case, it’s identified as a string, the reason is the commas separators in the current data (for example) : 4 640,2

Perhaps altering to 4 640.20 would allow it to be interpreted properly. Is there a way you could refine the data set, removing the commas from the Amount column?

Thank you so much in advance for your cooperation,
You will be soon able to try Open Spending Next get a visualisation when that is fixed !


Hi, thanks again for sharing. It looks great! :smile: I have another comment on one aspect of the dataset that should be changed. I’ve reformatted the snippet below for clarity.

It looks like you may be pre-computing subtotals. For example, I can see that all the spending on culture (level2_id 801-804) adds up to 80916.80 which is also reflected in the last line. In OpenSpending, we need each line to reflect a single spending assignment or event as the system is designed to automatically compute and visualize these subtotals for you.

Concretely, we need to remove all spending lines that are only subtotals of other spending lines. Does that make sense?

8, Culture, 801, Organization of lei..., 22544.10, 2016
8, Culture. 802, Organization of eve...,  1000.00, 2016
8, Culture, 803, Development of publ..., 19254.80, 2016
8, Culture, 804, Development of prof..., 38117.90, 2016
8, Culture,    ,                       , 80916.80, 2016


Hello @danfowler, @CecileLG!

Thanks for your advices! I corrected my dataset (points instead of commas in the the Amount column and removing all spending lines that are only subtotals of other spending lines).

This is a link for view of new version of the same file with budget:

This is the direct link: