One of a set of values passed to a function or class. In the Intake sense, this usually is the set of key-value pairs defined in the “args” section of a source definition; unless the user overrides, these will be used for instantiating the source.


Local copies of remote files. Intake allows for download-on-first-use for data-sources, so that subsequent access is much faster. The format of the files is unchanged in this case, but may be decompressed.


An inventory of entries, each of which corresponds to a specific Data-set. Within these docs, a catalog is most commonly defined in a YAML file, for simplicity, but there are other possibilities, such as connecting to an Intake server or another third-party data service, like a SQL database. Thus, catalogs form a hierarchy: any catalog can contain other, nested catalogs.

Catalog file

A YAML specification file which contains a list of named entries describing how to load data sources. Catalogs.


A package and environment management package for the python ecosystem, see the conda website. Conda ensures dependencies and correct versions are installed for you, provides precompiled, binary-compatible software, and extends to many languages beyond python, such as R, javascript and C.

Conda package

A single installable item which the Conda application can install. A package may include a Catalog, data-files and maybe some additional code. It will also include a specification of the dependencies that it requires (e.g., Intake and any additional Driver), so that Conda can install those automatically. Packages can be created locally, or can be found on or other package repositories.


One of the supported data formats. Each Driver outputs its data in one of these. The containers correspond to familiar data structures for end-analysis, such as list-of-dicts, Numpy nd-array or Pandas data-frame.


A specific assemblage of data. The type of data (tabular, multi-dimensional or something else) and the format (file type, data service type) are all attributes of the data-set. In addition, in the context of Intake, data-sets are usually entries within a Catalog with additional descriptive text and metadata and a specification of how to load the data.

Data Source

An Intake specification for a specific Data-set. In most cases, the two terms are synonymous.

Data User

A person who uses data to produce models and other inferences/conclusions. This person generally uses standard python analysis packages like Numpy, Pandas, SKLearn and may produce graphical output. They will want to be able to find the right data for a given job, and for the data to be available in a standard format as quickly and easily as possible. In many organisations, the appropriate job title may be Data Scientist, but research scientists and BI/analysts also fit this description.

Data packages

Data packages are standard conda packages that install an Intake catalog file into the user’s conda environment ($CONDA_PREFIX/share/intake). A data package does not necessarily imply there are data files inside the package. A data package could describe remote data sources (such as files in S3) and take up very little space on disk.

Data Provider

A person whose main objective is to curate data sources, get them into appropriate formats, describe the contents, and disseminate the data to those that need to use them. Such a person may care about the specifics of the storage format and backing store, the right number of fields to keep and removing bad data. They may have a good idea of the best way to visualise any give data-set. In an organisation, this job may be known as Data Engineer, but it could as easily be done by a member of the IT team. These people are the most likely to author Catalogs.


A person who writes or fixes code. In the context of Intake, a developer may make new format Drivers, create authentication systems or add functionality to Intake itself. They can take existing code for loading data in other projects, and use Intake to add extra functionality to it, for instance, remote data access, parallel processing, or file-name parsing.


The thing that does the work of reading the data for a catalog entry is known as a driver, often referred to using a simple name such as “csv”. Intake has a plugin architecture, and new drivers can be created or installed, and specific catalogs/data-sets may require particular drivers for their contained data-sets. If installed as Conda packages, then these requirements will be automatically installed for you. The driver’s output will be a Container, and often the code is a simpler layer over existing functionality in a third-party package.


A Graphical User Interface. Intake comes with a GUI for finding and selecting data-sets, see GUI.


The Information Technology team for an organisation. Such a team may have control of the computing infrastructure and security (sys-ops), and may well act as gate-keepers when exposing data for use by other colleagues. Commonly, IT has stronger policy enforcement requirements that other groups, for instance requiring all data-set copy actions to be logged centrally.


A process of making a local version of a data-source. One canonical format is used for each of the container types, optimised for quick and parallel access. This is particularly useful if the data takes a long time to acquire, perhaps because it is the result of a complex query on a remote service. The resultant output can be set to expire and be automatically refreshed, see Persisting Data. Not to be confused with the cache.


Modular extra functionality for Intake, provided by a package that is installed separately. The most common type of plugin will be for a Driver to load some particular data format; but other parts of Intake are pluggable, such as authentication mechanisms for the server.


A remote source for Intake catalogs. The server will provide data source specifications (i.e., a remote Catalog), and may also provide the raw data, in situations where the client is not able or not allowed to access it directly. As such, the server can act as a gatekeeper of the data for security and monitoring purposes. The implementation of the server in Intake is accessible as the intake-server command, and acts as a reference: other implementations can easily be created for specific circumstances.


Time-to-live, how long before the given entity is considered to have expired. Usually in seconds.

User Parameter

A data source definition can contain a “parameters” section, which can act as explicit decision indicators for the user, or as validation and type coersion for the definition’s Argument s. See Parameter Definition.


A text-based format for expressing data with a dictionary (key-value) and list structure, with a limited number of data-types, such as strings and numbers. YAML uses indentations to nest objects, making it easy to read and write for humans, compared to JSON. Intake’s catalogs and config are usually expressed in YAML files.