Open data

Data Formats

Our data are supplied using a number of file formats. Where possible we try and use open formats, such as CSV, which are not tied to a particular piece of software, such as Microsoft Excel, or restrict what you can do with the data, such as a PDF.

CSVComma Separated Value A simple text file with each value separated by a comma.  Although you can use a text editor (such as Notepad) to view these files, they are best opened with a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or the free OpenOffice.org Calc. 
KMLKeyhole Markup Language A text file that contains geograpic information.  These files can be viewed easily in Google Earth or Google Maps.  They can also be loaded in to a geographic information system (GIS) such as ArcGIS, MapInfo or the free Quantum GIS.
PDFPortable Document Format PDFs allow a user to see a document as it was intended by its creator.  They are useful as they remove the problems associated with opening documents in different programs. However they are difficult to alter and copying from them can lead to strange results. You can download a free viewer from Adobe to open these files.