We appreciate your interest in exploring and working with Open Data using the files and feeds found within our data catalogue. This page has tips and tricks that can help you further understand common tools that can be used to analyze data.

The City of Toronto’s Open Data Team isn’t officially endorsing anything you find here as a “tool of choice”; we’re simply trying to offer some insight and workarounds on how to get into and use our data.

If you spot something confusing in an explanation, or have another tool that can be used to examine the data in a meaningful and intuitive way, we’d love to know. Contact us at opendata@toronto.ca.

Potential JSON Viewers


  1. Load your data or find the JSON data set of your choice. We did a simple copy and paste
  2. Click the formatting button at the top left side of the page, which reads: “Format JSON data with proper indentation and line feeds”
  3. Click the button pointing to the right, in order to “copy code to tree editor”

To convert XML to Excel:

  1. Save the xml file to your desktop (right click & save-as)
  2. Open a fresh/blank excel doc
  3. Click the data tab at the top of the page
  4. Click the “From other sources” button along that menu bar
  5. Click “From xml data import”
  6. Navigate to your desktop “folder” & select the xml file you saved to your desktop back in step 1
  7. It should open in excel (just click OK to whatever random pop up boxes or prompts appear after you select your xml file)

The “shapefile” (.shp) format is a popular data format for geographic information system (GIS) software. You need specialized GIS software to access Shapefiles.

Shapefile Viewers

  1. Open a new/blank excel file
  2. Find and CLICK the Microsoft office button (in the very top left corner of excel)
  3. From the drop-down menu that appears, select “Open”
  4. A dialogue box will pop up, and from there select “Text Files” (*.prn,*.txt,*.csv) from the drop-down list in the lower right-hand corner
  5. Find the file you’re looking for and double click

Note: If you are opening a .csv file, Excel will open it in a new workbook right away. If you are opening a text (.txt) file, the Import Text Wizard will start running in Excel

If you have questions about Permit Parking (related to the availability of permit parking, or the specific locations or maps for permit parking zones), please contact the Permit Parking unit, who work for Transportation Services. You can reach Permit Parking by email at pparking@toronto.ca or Temporary Permit Parking Staff may be reached by phone at 416-392-7873 from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:15pm.

If you have questions about a Building Permit, your best bet is to contact the Toronto Building Office directly. The best first point of contact is by phone. Toronto Building Staff can be reached directly at 416-397-5330 from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. The phone number above is for their general customer service staff, which is the fastest way to get pointed in the right direction. Toronto Building customer service staff may forward you to another department or recommend another number to call.