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Parse and manipulate structured data and metadata in a tabular format.

Project description

Metapack, Metatab Data Packaging

Parse and manipulate structured data and metadata in a tabular format.

Metatab is a data format that allows structured metadata – the sort you’d normally store in JSON, YAML or XML – to be stored and edited in tabular forms like CSV or Excel. Metatab files look exactly like you’d expect, so they are very easy for non-technical users to read and edit, using tools they already have. Metatab is an excellent format for creating, storing and transmitting metadata. For more information about metatab, visit

Metapack is a packaging system that uses Metatab to create Zip, Excel and filesystem data packages.

This repository has a Python module and executable. For a Javascript version, see the metatab-js repository.


Metapack only works with Python 3.5 or later, and you’ll almost certainly want to install it into a virtual environment. To set up a virtual environment:

python3 -mvenv metapack
cd metapack
source bin/activate

Since we’re stil in development, you’ll get the latest code by installing package from github, but you can also install from pip. In either case, you should create the virtualenv, and afterward, you’ll have to reinstall the six package because of an odd conflict

To install the package with pip:

pip install metapack

Because the fs package has an odd version requirement on six, you’ll have to fix the version:

pip uninstall -y six
pip install six==1.10.0

To run the tests, you’ll also need to install some support modules;

$ pip install fiona shapely pyproj terminaltables geopandas

Then test parsing using a remote file with the metatab program, from the metatab module:

$ metatab -j

Run metatab -h to get other program options.

The test-data directory has test files that also serve as examples to parse. You can either clone the repo and parse them from the files, or from the Github page for the file, click on the raw button to get raw view of the flie, then copy the URL.

The main program for metapack is mt, which has a number of ( extensible) sub commands. See the commands with: mt -h.

Getting Started

See Getting Started for an initial tutorial, or the other guides in the docs directory on Github

Development Notes

Clearing the Cache

Some tests can pass despite errors if the file the test is looking for is cached. The cache can be set with an evironmental variable and cleared before the tests to solve this problem

$ cache_dir=/tmp/some/dir
$ rm -rf $cache_dir
$ mkdir -p  $cache_dir
$ APPURL_CACHE=$cache_dir python test

Development Testing with Docker

Testing during development for other versions of Python is a bit of a pain, since you have to install the alternate version, and Tox will run all of the tests, not just the one you want.

One way to deal with this is to install Docker locally, then run the docker test container on the source directory. This is done automatically from the Makefile in appurl/tests

$ cd metapack/metapack/test
$ make build # to create the container image
$ make shell # to run bash the container

You now have a docker container where the /code directory is the appurl source dir. Since the Docker container is running code from your host machine, you can edit it normally.

Now, run tox to build the tox virtual environments, then enter the specific version you want to run tests for and activate the virtual environment.

To run one environment. for example, Python 3.4

# tox -e py34

To run one test in one environment environment. for example, Python 3.4

# tox -e py34 -- -s

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