Using the Open Data Portal Exploration Canvas

The Exploration Canvas is an exciting addition now available on most datasets in the Open Data Portal. The Exploration Canvas is an updated answer to the Grid View - taking tabular data exploration, data shaping, and derived view creation on our platform to the next level. By raising the standard for performance, functionality, and ease of use across these various activities, we envision a future where you’ll rely on it as your preferred data exploration and shaping surface.
Please see this support article for more details: Introducing the Exploration Canvas for Open Data

Why use the Exploration Canvas?

The Exploration Canvas makes exploring the data to gain meaningful insight easy and efficient, regardless of your technical skill level. Datasets come in all sizes and can contain a lot of useful data. But all the data may not be useful to the task at hand. Filtering and "shaping" the data lets you temporarily hide some of the data, allowing you to focus on the data you want to see. You can also group and aggregate data to help extract descriptive statistics without the need to export the data for analysis elsewhere.
You may use the Exploration Canvas to, for example,
  • explore COVID-19 cases on the portal, focusing on one county or several counties.
  • find PA Historical markers in your county: or
  • find a Personal Care Home in your city
In all of these cases, you can use the Exploration Canvas to filter (i.e., show only data of interest), shape (e.g., exclude columns, sort), and calculate descriptive statistics (e.g., count, average, standard deviation) to help you gain insights. If you are logged into the Open Data Portal, you can save your work and come back to it later; these "derived views" are private and not visible to the public.

Let's Get Started

Explore Page from URL
Access Exploration Canvas page by adding /explore at the end of the dataset's URL. 

Or click on the View Data tab on the primer page of the dataset and the Exploration Canvas page will appear. 

Explore Page from Primer

Data Table

Within the data table, click the three dots to the right of a column name. Choose from filter and sort the data, change the order of the columns, group and aggregate the data, and exclude columns from your query. 
Data Table Filter Options

Visual Query Editor

Bypass the data table and do all data querying directly in the Visual Query Editor below the table view. Select the filter, group and aggregate, and column manager icons on the bottom left to shape the data and calculate descriptive statistics.
Visual Query Editor Options

Exploration Canvas Use Examples

Let us look at the COVID-19 Aggregate Cases Current Weekly Dataset

To find the 7-day Average New Cases follow these steps:
  1. Using the filter select the date column and filter requested dates
  2. For the 7-day Average New cases column select not equal to '0'
  3. Select any other parameters for the query to provide results
7 Day Average New Cases Filtered by Date

Filter and Sort


To use the filter feature, click on the 3 dots next to column and click on filter.
Select the column you would like to filter out based on the filter condition value.
Filtering Data


To use sort feature, select the column based on which you like to sort in Ascending or descending order.

Sorting Data

Filtering and Sorting Data

Aggregated Number of Cases by County

Aggregated Results

Save Your Hard Work and Analytical Results!

Anyone can sign up for an account with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Open Data Portal. Once signed up, log in and save your work, so you can return to it later. You can "publish" your work, which will allow you to create visualizations based on your derived views. NOTE: All work under your login will not be viewable by the public.
Trick: The URL captures all the exploration parameters set while using the Exploration Canvas. By saving and sharing that URL, you can return to the unsaved view later or allow someone else to see what you have done without having to sign in to the portal.
Save or Create a view

Further resources