Hey! This content applies only to previous CARTO products

Please check if it's relevant to your use case. On October 2021 we released a new version of our platform.
You can learn more and read the latest documentation at docs.carto.com

Questions  /  Working with Data  /  Intro to Data

What is a CARTO Dataset?

Find out the difference between a standard postgres table and a CARTO dataset

Throughout all of the CARTO ecosystem you will see the term dataset used, rather than term table that CARTO’s backend, PostgreSQL, uses. A dataset is essentially a table that has been processed to be used within CARTO.

Why do you need this?

  • :ballot_box_with_check: You do not know the difference between a Postgres table and a CARTO dataset
  • :ballot_box_with_check: You are confused why your table you made with CREATE TABLE() is not in your dashboard

What happens when a table is processed?

Three indexed columns are added to every CARTO dataset:

  1. cartodb_id: primary key of the dataset, it has unique values and it can’t be null.
  2. the_geom: field where the geometries (points, lines, or polygons) are stored in the CARTO dataset. The geometries must be in the projection EPSG:4326 (WGS84 - Geodetic coordinate system for World)
  3. the_geom_webmercator: this field is hidden in the dataset, and it stores the geometries in the projection EPSG:3857 (WGS84 Web Mercator (Auxiliary Sphere) - Projected coordinate system for World), this field is used to render the geometries on the map. This field is automatically updated when a geometry in the_geom field is added or updated.

There are also triggers added to these tables in order to add new cartodb_id’s and indexes as new rows are added.

When is a table processed?

Tables are automatically registered when you import them through our import API

How do I manually process a table to use in CARTO?

In the event that you have used the postgresql function CREATE TABLE through CARTO’s SQL API, you will need to use the CARTO function cdb_cartodbfytable() in order to make it visible in your dashboard, and usable throughout all of CARTO.

SELECT cdb_cartodbfytable({table_name});

Note: If you are an developer using an Enterprise account, you must also include the organization username as part of the request. For example:

SELECT cdb_cartodbfytable({username}, {table_name});

:rocket: What’s next?

:ballot_box_with_check: Check out the Developer’s Center for more information about table creation

:ballot_box_with_check: Learn more about working with databases using CARTO

:ballot_box_with_check: Learn more about other CARTO functions and about Crankshaft, CARTO’s Spatial Analysis extension for PostgreSQL.