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This section of the OpenSpending documentation is for end users. Here you can learn about how to find and interact with data in OpenSpending, and how to use the data elsewhere.
Let's get started then! To use OpenSpending, at a minimum you need to know the basic features of many websites: search, menus and categories, and how to read simple visualisations. Of course, fiscal data is not necessarily the most intuitive data you will have come across, but one of our goals is to make is as simple as possible (and no simpler) to understand and extract meaning from fiscal data.
For most users, the main entry point into OpenSpending is via an app we call the "Explorer". This simply refers to the fact that it is a simple website that lets you explore all of the data in the OpenSpending database. It works in a similar way to using Google to search for information.
Raw fiscal data gets boring fast. That is why visualisation is such an important part of OpenSpending. When you explore the database, you'll eventually stumble on a data package of interest to you. Clicking through to look at this data package in detail, you'll get to an app that we call the "Viewer". It presents a number of ways to interact with the data in the package, via easy-to-use charts and tables.
We've found that quite a few people want to get the raw data from OpenSpending. A common use case for the raw data is to look at it through tools that are more familiar, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. No problem! All the data in OpenSpending is stored in CSV files, making it easy to get the data and use it elsewhere.