Dataset Services API

Last Updated: May 2017


This feature requires the tethys_dataset_services library to be installed. Starting with Tethys 5.0 or if you are using micro-tethys-platform, you will need to install `tethys_dataset_services using conda or pip as follows:

# conda: conda-forge channel strongly recommended
conda install -c conda-forge tethys_dataset_services

# pip
pip install tethys_dataset_services

Dataset services are web services external to Tethys Platform that can be used to store and publish file-based datasets (e.g.: text files, Excel files, zip archives, other model files). Tethys app developers can use the Dataset Services API to access datasets for use in their apps and publish any resulting datasets their apps may produce. Supported options include CKAN and HydroShare.

Key Concepts

Tethys Dataset Services API provides a standardized interface for interacting with dataset services. This means that you can use datasets from different sources without completely overhauling your code. Each of the supported dataset services provides a DatasetEngine object with the same methods. For example, all DatasetEngine objects have a method called list_datasets() that will have the same result, returning a list of the datasets that are available.

There are two important definitions that are applicable to dataset services: dataset and resource. A resource contains a single file or other object and the metadata associated with it. A dataset is a container for one or more resources.

Dataset Service Engine References

All DatasetEngine objects implement a minimum set of base methods. However, some DatasetEngine objects may include additional methods that are unique to that DatasetEngine and the arguments that each method accepts may vary slightly. Refer to the following references for the methods that are offered by each DatasetEngine.

Dataset Service Settings

Using dataset services in your app is accomplished by adding the dataset_service_settings() method to your app class, which is located in your app configuration file ( This method should return a list or tuple of DatasetServiceSetting. For example:

from tethys_sdk.app_settings import DatasetServiceSetting

class MyFirstApp(TethysAppBase):
    Tethys App Class for My First App.
    def dataset_service_settings(self):
        Example dataset_service_settings method.
        ds_settings = (
                description='Primary CKAN service for app to use.',
                description='HydroShare service for app to use.',

        return ds_settings


The ellipsis in the code block above indicates code that is not shown for brevity. DO NOT COPY VERBATIM.

Assign Dataset Service

The DatasetServiceSetting can be thought of as a socket for a connection to a DatasetService. Before we can do anything with the DatasetServiceSetting we need to "plug in" or assign a DatasetService to the setting. The DatasetService contains the connection information and can be used by multiple apps. Assigning a DatasetService is done through the Admin Interface of Tethys Portal as follows:

  1. Create DatasetService if one does not already exist

    1. Access the Admin interface of Tethys Portal by clicking on the drop down menu next to your user name and selecting the "Site Admin" option.

    2. Scroll to the Tethys Service section of the Admin Interface and select the link titled Dataset Services.

    3. Click on the Add Dataset Service button.

    4. Fill in the connection information to the database server.

    5. Press the Save button to save the new DatasetService.


    You do not need to create a new DatasetService for each DatasetServiceSetting or each app. Apps and DatasetServiceSettings can share DatasetServices.

  2. Navigate to App Settings Page

    1. Return to the Home page of the Admin Interface using the Home link in the breadcrumbs or as you did in step 1a.

    2. Scroll to the Tethys Apps section of the Admin Interface and select the Installed Apps linke.

    3. Select the link for your app from the list of installed apps.

  3. Assign DatasetService to the appropriate DatasetServiceSetting

    1. Scroll to the Dataset Service Settings section and locate the DatasetServiceSetting.


    If you don't see the DatasetServiceSetting in the list, uninstall the app and reinstall it again.

    1. Assign the appropriate DatasetService to your DatasetServiceSetting using the drop down menu in the Dataset Service column.

    2. Press the Save button at the bottom of the page to save your changes.


During development you will assign the DatasetService setting yourself. However, when the app is installed in production, this steps is performed by the portal administrator upon installing your app, which may or may not be yourself.

Working with Dataset Services

After dataset services have been properly configured, you can use the services to store and retrieve data for your apps. The process involves the following steps:

1. Get a Dataset Service Engine

Call the get_dataset_service() method of the app class to get a DatasetEngine:

from import MyFirstApp as app

ckan_engine = app.get_dataset_service('primary_ckan', as_engine=True)

You can also create a DatasetEngine object directly. This can be useful if you want to vary the credentials for dataset access frequently (e.g.: using user specific credentials):

from tethys_dataset_services.engines import CkanDatasetEngine

dataset_engine = CkanDatasetEngine(endpoint='', apikey='a-R3llY-n1Ce-@Pi-keY')


Take care not to store API keys, usernames, or passwords in the source files of your app--especially if the source is made public. This could compromise the security of the dataset service.

2. Use the Dataset Service Engine

After you have a DatasetEngine, simply call the desired method on it. All DatasetEngine methods return a dictionary with an item named 'success' that contains a boolean. If the operation was successful, the value of 'success' will be True, otherwise it will be False. If the value of 'success' is True, the dictionary will also contain an item named 'result' that will contain the results. If it is False, the dictionary will contain an item named 'error' that will contain information about the error that occurred. This can be used for debugging purposes as illustrated in the following example:

from import MyFirstApp as app

dataset_engine = app.get_dataset_service('primary_ckan', as_engine=True)

result = dataset_engine.list_datasets()

if result['success']:
    dataset_list = result['result']

    for dataset in dataset_list:

Use the dataset service engines references above for descriptions of the methods available and examples.


The HydroShare dataset engine uses OAuth 2.0 to authenticate and authorize interactions with the HydroShare via the REST API. This requires passing the request object as one of the arguments in get_dataset_engine() method call. Also, to ensure the user is connected to HydroShare, app developers must use the ensure_oauth2() decorator on any controllers that use the HydroShare dataset engine. For example:

from import get_dataset_engine, ensure_oauth2
from .app import MyFirstApp as app

def my_controller(request):
    This is an example controller that uses the HydroShare API.
    engine = app.get_dataset_service('hydroshare', request=request)

    response = engine.list_datasets()

    context = {}

    return render(request, 'my_first_app/home.html', context)