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ABS Data API (Beta)

  Beta  

Getting Started

Using the API

Understanding SDMX Data

Worked Examples

Troubleshooting

Worked Examples

Explore a dataset and construct a data request

Introduction

The ABS DataAPIs provide machine-to-machine access to ABS data via an SDMX RESTful web service. The official SDMX wiki explains the standard in detail. SDMX is complex and can be difficult to learn, this tutorial aims to take you through the basics you need to know to use the ABS Data API. We’ll touch on a number of SDMX concepts but the focus is on constructing a data request.

Which Data?

For this example, lets say we want to find out on average how much mid-strength beer each Australian drank in 2008. We know the ABS publishes a collection called Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, so that's where we'll start.

We'll be going through this process step by step and explaining a little bit along the way, if you just want to API calls you can skip to the end.

Step 1: Finding a Dataflow

All data in the ABS APIs comes out of a dataflow (a type of SDMX structure). You can think of a dataflow as a table of data (it isn't, but you can kind of think of it as one). To begin our search, we'll need to find a dataflow containing data from the Apparent Consumption of Alcohol collection. Luckily, all SDMX structures have their own URL we can call to list them (as well as do some other exciting things if we like). Simply by visiting https://api.data.abs.gov.au/dataflow we get to see a list of all the dataflows the ABS offers. There are a lot of them. If we search for Apparent Consumption of Alcohol however, we find one:

   <structure:Dataflow id="ALC" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
      <common:Annotations>
         <common:Annotation>
            <common:AnnotationType>NonProductionDataflow</common:AnnotationType>
            <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">true</common:AnnotationText>
         </common:Annotation>
      </common:Annotations>
      <common:Name xml:lang="en">Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia</common:Name>
      <structure:Structure>
         <Ref id="ALC" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="datastructure" class="DataStructure" />
      </structure:Structure>
   </structure:Dataflow>

Step 2: Reviewing the Structure

Dataflows are how we look at the data in the ABS API, but there's another structure that defines how the data is structured (which is super important for querying it and understanding the response). This is pretty appropriately called the Data Structure Definition, or DSD for short. If we’re thinking of a dataflow as a table, we can think about DSDs as the definition of what rows and columns there are in the table, and what values they can take (and a bunch of other things…).

What has this got to do with getting the data? It's important to know how the data is structured so we can build a query. Now, our dataflow is pretty small, so we could just get all the data and deal with finding the value we want... but some of the other dataflows are very large. So we should learn how to query the API to avoid getting a whole bunch of data we don't want, crashing our computer or exceeding the size limits for the API.

Data queries to the API look like this: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/{flowRef}/{dataKey}?{queryParameters}. We're going to need to provide a flowRef so the API knows what dataflow to get data from, and a dataKey to filter the data we get back. We'll leave the extra parameters to the next section.

FlowRef

There's a few ways we can define the flowRef, but we'll be using the simplest one. From the first request we made above we know Dataflow id=“ALC” therefore our flowRef is ALC

dataKey

The dataKey section of the URL lets us tell the ABS API that we only want a subset of the available data. We do that by providing the values we want from each dimension, separated by the . character. You can think of the dimensions as the columns and rows of the table defined by the DSD. So, this is why we need to look at the DSD our dataflow is using. Firstly, we need to know what order the dimensions appear in the DSD, because that's the order we need to put them in the dataKey. Secondly, we need to know what values are available, and which ones correspond to the information I want to retrieve.

Each of the dimensions in our dataflow's DSD is represented by a codelist. A codelist... lists... codes... So, we need to look at the DSD and see what order the dimensions are (and what they are) and then look at each of the codelists and work out what code corresponds to the information we want (remember, it's how much mid-strength beer each Australian drank in 2008).

Now, we can use the same URL we used for the dataflow (because DSDs also have their own endpoint), but let’s go one step further and get a specific DSD instead of all of them. To do that we need to know how to tell the API which DSD we want. There are three pieces of information that together let us uniquely identify a dataflow or a DSD (or any maintainable structure for that matter):

Now, we don't actually have to provide a version number for our DSD, because if you don't give one, the API assumes you just want the latest one... which is true! We do just want the latest one! The question now is where to get the structure id for the DSD for our dataflow. Well, luckily we've already seen it, when we were looking for our dataflow in step 1 above.

<structure:Structure>
  <Ref id="ALC" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="datastructure" class="DataStructure"/>
</structure:Structure>

Given this, we can get the DSD using the url: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/datastructure/ABS/ALC.

<message:Structures>
   <structure:DataStructures>
      <structure:DataStructure id="ALC" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia</common:Name>
         <structure:DataStructureComponents>
            <structure:DimensionList id="DimensionDescriptor">
               <structure:Dimension id="TYP" position="1">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="TYP" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_TYP" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:Dimension id="MEA" position="2">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="MEASURE" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_MEASURE" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>

This gives us the Data Structure with dimensions. The order of dimensions is given by their position eg. position="1".

But, we don't just need to know the order of the dimensions, but what values they take. That's defined by the codelist each dimension uses. Now, we could do the same sort of thing we did with getting to the DSD from the dataflow. Each dimension will refer to a codelist like we can see above for the codelist CL_ALC_TYP.

We could call the API to get each of the codelists in turn using URLs like https://api.data.abs.gov.au/codelist/ABS/CL_ALC_TYP/1.0.0 (we included the version number 1.0.0 here). But that means we have to make a call for every dimension. Let’s save time and use our first query parameter when getting structure information: references. This parameter lets us retrieve not just the specified structure from the API, but some of the structures it references as well. We're going to specify the value codelist, telling the API that we want to retrieve any codelists referred to by our DSD: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/datastructure/ABS/ALC?references=codelist (Some codelists removed for brevity):

<message:Structures>
   <structure:Codelists>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_BEVT" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Type</common:Name>
         <structure:Code id="1">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="2">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Wine</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="3">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">3</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Spirits and RTDs</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="4">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">4</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total all beverages</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="5">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">5</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Cider</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_MEASURE" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Measure</common:Name>
         <structure:Code id="1">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total apparent consumption ('000 litres)</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="2">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Litres per person aged 15 years and over</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Per capita apparent consumption (litres)</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_SUB" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Subtype/Strength</common:Name>
         <structure:Code id="1">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Low alcohol beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="2">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Other alcohol beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="3">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">3</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of low strength beer is greater than 1.15% and less than or equal to 3.0%</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Low strength beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="4">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">4</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of mid strength beer is greater than 3.0% and less than or equal to 3.5%</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Mid strength beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="5">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">5</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of full strength beer is greater than 3.5%</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Full strength beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="6">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">6</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total beer</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="7">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">7</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">White table wine</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="8">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">8</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Red table wine</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="9">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">9</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Other wines</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="10">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">10</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total wine</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="11">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">11</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Spirits</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="12">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">12</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Ready to Drink (Pre-mixed) Beverages</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">RTDs</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="13">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">13</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total spirits and RTDs</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="15">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">14</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Cider</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="14">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">15</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total all beverages</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_TYP" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Type of Volume</common:Name>
         <structure:Code id="1">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Volume of pure alcohol</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
         <structure:Code id="2">
            <common:Annotations>
               <common:Annotation>
                  <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
                  <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
               </common:Annotation>
            </common:Annotations>
            <common:Name xml:lang="en">Volume of beverage</common:Name>
         </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
   </structure:Codelists>
   <structure:DataStructures>
      <structure:DataStructure id="ALC" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
         <common:Name xml:lang="en">Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia</common:Name>
         <structure:DataStructureComponents>
            <structure:DimensionList id="DimensionDescriptor">
               <structure:Dimension id="TYP" position="1">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="TYP" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_TYP" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:Dimension id="MEA" position="2">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="MEASURE" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_MEASURE" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:Dimension id="BEVT" position="3">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="BEVT" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_BEVT" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:Dimension id="SUB" position="4">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="SUB" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_ALC_SUB" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:Dimension id="FREQUENCY" position="5">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="FREQ" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_FREQ" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:Dimension>
               <structure:TimeDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" position="6">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="TIME_PERIOD" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:TextFormat textType="ObservationalTimePeriod"/>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
               </structure:TimeDimension>
            </structure:DimensionList>
            <structure:AttributeList id="AttributeDescriptor">
               <structure:Attribute id="UNIT_MEASURE" assignmentStatus="Conditional">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="UNIT_MEASURE" maintainableParentID="CS_ATTRIBUTE" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_UNIT_MEASURE" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
                  <structure:AttributeRelationship>
                     <structure:None/>
                  </structure:AttributeRelationship>
               </structure:Attribute>
               <structure:Attribute id="UNIT_MULT" assignmentStatus="Conditional">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="UNIT_MULT" maintainableParentID="CS_ATTRIBUTE" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_UNIT_MULT" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
                  <structure:AttributeRelationship>
                     <structure:Dimension>
                        <Ref id="MEA"/>
                     </structure:Dimension>
                  </structure:AttributeRelationship>
               </structure:Attribute>
               <structure:Attribute id="OBS_STATUS" assignmentStatus="Conditional">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="OBS_STATUS" maintainableParentID="CS_ATTRIBUTE" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                     <structure:Enumeration>
                        <Ref id="CL_OBS_STATUS" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist"/>
                     </structure:Enumeration>
                  </structure:LocalRepresentation>
                  <structure:AttributeRelationship>
                     <structure:PrimaryMeasure>
                        <Ref id="OBS_VALUE"/>
                     </structure:PrimaryMeasure>
                  </structure:AttributeRelationship>
               </structure:Attribute>
               <structure:Attribute id="OBS_COMMENT" assignmentStatus="Conditional">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="OBS_COMMENT" maintainableParentID="CS_ATTRIBUTE" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
                  <structure:AttributeRelationship>
                     <structure:PrimaryMeasure>
                        <Ref id="OBS_VALUE"/>
                     </structure:PrimaryMeasure>
                  </structure:AttributeRelationship>
               </structure:Attribute>
            </structure:AttributeList>
            <structure:MeasureList id="MeasureDescriptor">
               <structure:PrimaryMeasure id="OBS_VALUE">
                  <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                     <Ref id="OBS_VALUE" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept"/>
                  </structure:ConceptIdentity>
               </structure:PrimaryMeasure>
            </structure:MeasureList>
         </structure:DataStructureComponents>
      </structure:DataStructure>
   </structure:DataStructures>
</message:Structures>

Concept

We've worked out how to get the codelists that define the values each dimension can take. However, it may not always be clear from these values what the dimensions actually are. To find this we need to look at the concept it refers to. The concept gives the dimension its meaning and its name. As codes are stored in codelists, concepts are stored in... conceptschemes (conceptlists would be too obvious). So, we want the DSD to get the dimensions and their order, the referenced concepts (via their conceptschemes) to work out what they are, and the referenced codelists (to work out what values we need).

We're going back to the references query parameter again. We could use conceptscheme, but instead we’ll use the value children to tell the API we want all directly-referenced structures (which will include both the codelists, and the conceptschemes). Finally, we have all the information we need. Our API call is https://api.data.abs.gov.au/datastructure/ABS/ALC?references=children (Some codelists and conceptschemes we're not using removed for brevity):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!--NSI Web Service v7.13.0.0-->
<message:Structure xmlns:message="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/message" xmlns:structure="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/structure" xmlns:common="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/common">
  <message:Header>
    <message:ID>IDREF1399</message:ID>
    <message:Test>false</message:Test>
    <message:Prepared>2020-09-28T11:44:17.6726618+10:00</message:Prepared>
    <message:Sender id="Unknown" />
    <message:Receiver id="Unknown" />
  </message:Header>
  <message:Structures>
    <structure:Codelists>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_BEVT" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Type</common:Name>
        <structure:Code id="1">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="2">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Wine</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="3">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">3</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Spirits and RTDs</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="4">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">4</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total all beverages</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="5">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">5</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Cider</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_MEASURE" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Measure</common:Name>
        <structure:Code id="1">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total apparent consumption ('000 litres)</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="2">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Litres per person aged 15 years and over</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Per capita apparent consumption (litres)</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_SUB" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Subtype/Strength</common:Name>
        <structure:Code id="1">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Low alcohol beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="2">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Other alcohol beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="3">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">3</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of low strength beer is greater than 1.15% and less than or equal to 3.0%</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Low strength beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="4">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">4</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of mid strength beer is greater than 3.0% and less than or equal to 3.5%</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Mid strength beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="5">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">5</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Alcohol volume of full strength beer is greater than 3.5%</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Full strength beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="6">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">6</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total beer</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="7">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">7</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">White table wine</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="8">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">8</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Red table wine</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="9">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">9</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Other wines</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="10">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">10</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total wine</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="11">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">11</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Spirits</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="12">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">12</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>FURTHER_INFORMATION</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">Ready to Drink (Pre-mixed) Beverages</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">RTDs</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="13">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">13</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total spirits and RTDs</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="15">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">14</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Cider</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="14">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">15</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Total all beverages</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_ALC_TYP" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Type of Volume</common:Name>
        <structure:Code id="1">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">1</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Volume of pure alcohol</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="2">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>ORDER</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">2</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Volume of beverage</common:Name>
        </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_FREQ" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Frequency</common:Name>
        <structure:Code id="H">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Hourly</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every hour.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="D">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Daily</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every day.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="N">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Minutely</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">While N denotes "minutely", usually, there may be no observations every minute (for several series the frequency is usually "irregular" within a day/days). And though observations may be sparse (not collected or disseminated every minute), missing values do not need to be given for the minutes when no observations exist: in any case the time stamp determines when an observation is observed.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="B">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Daily or businessweek</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">Similar to "daily", however there are no observations for Saturdays and Sundays (so, neither "missing values" nor "numeric values" should be provided for Saturday and Sunday). This treatment ("business") is one way to deal with such cases, but it is not the only option. Such a time series could alternatively be considered daily ("D"), thus, with missing values in the weekend.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="W">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Weekly</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every week.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="S">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Half-yearly, semester</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every semester.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="A">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Annual</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every year.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="M">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Monthly</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every month.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
        <structure:Code id="Q">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Quarterly</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">To be used for data collected or disseminated every quarter.</common:Description>
        </structure:Code>
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_OBS_STATUS" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <!-- Removed codelist -->
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_UNIT_MEASURE" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <!-- Removed codelist -->
      </structure:Codelist>
      <structure:Codelist id="CL_UNIT_MULT" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <!-- Removed codelist -->
      </structure:Codelist>
    </structure:Codelists>
    <structure:Concepts>
      <structure:ConceptScheme id="CS_ALC" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Apparent Consumption of Alcohol Concepts</common:Name>
        <structure:Concept id="BEVT">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Type</common:Name>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="SUB">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Beverage Subtype/Strength</common:Name>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="TYP">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Type of Volume</common:Name>
        </structure:Concept>
      </structure:ConceptScheme>
      <structure:ConceptScheme id="CS_ATTRIBUTE" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <!-- Remove conceptscheme -->
      </structure:ConceptScheme>
      <structure:ConceptScheme id="CS_COMMON" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Common Concepts</common:Name>
        <structure:Concept id="OBS_VALUE">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Observation Value</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">The observed value of the variable identified by the series dimension values.</common:Description>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="TIME_PERIOD">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>CONTEXT</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">The measurement represented by each observation corresponds to a specific point in time (e.g. a single day) or a period (e.g. a month, a fiscal year, or a calendar year).</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Time Period</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">Timespan or point in time for which the observation refers.</common:Description>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="FREQ">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Frequency</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">Rate at which data is collated.</common:Description>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="MEASURE">
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Measure</common:Name>
        </structure:Concept>
        <structure:Concept id="TSEST">
          <common:Annotations>
            <common:Annotation>
              <common:AnnotationType>OTHER_LINKS</common:AnnotationType>
              <common:AnnotationText xml:lang="en">https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/home/Time+Series+Analysis:+The+Basics</common:AnnotationText>
            </common:Annotation>
          </common:Annotations>
          <common:Name xml:lang="en">Adjustment Type</common:Name>
          <common:Description xml:lang="en">An original time series can be decomposed into three components: the trend (the general direction of the series), the seasonal component (systematic, calendar related movements) and the irregular component (unsystematic, short term fluctuations). Seasonally adjusted series are produced by estimating the seasonal component and removing this from the original series. In most economic data the seasonal component is a combination of seasonal influences (e.g. the effect of the weather or social traditions) plus other kinds of calendar related variations such as Chinese New Year and Christmas. The seasonal adjustment methodology takes into account both seasonal and other calendar related factors that evolve over time to reflect changes in activity patterns.</common:Description>
        </structure:Concept>
      </structure:ConceptScheme>
    </structure:Concepts>
    <structure:DataStructures>
      <structure:DataStructure id="ALC" agencyID="ABS" version="1.0.0" isFinal="true">
        <common:Name xml:lang="en">Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia</common:Name>
        <structure:DataStructureComponents>
          <structure:DimensionList id="DimensionDescriptor">
            <structure:Dimension id="TYP" position="1">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="TYP" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:Enumeration>
                  <Ref id="CL_ALC_TYP" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                </structure:Enumeration>
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:Dimension>
            <structure:Dimension id="MEA" position="2">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="MEASURE" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:Enumeration>
                  <Ref id="CL_ALC_MEASURE" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                </structure:Enumeration>
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:Dimension>
            <structure:Dimension id="BEVT" position="3">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="BEVT" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:Enumeration>
                  <Ref id="CL_ALC_BEVT" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                </structure:Enumeration>
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:Dimension>
            <structure:Dimension id="SUB" position="4">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="SUB" maintainableParentID="CS_ALC" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:Enumeration>
                  <Ref id="CL_ALC_SUB" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                </structure:Enumeration>
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:Dimension>
            <structure:Dimension id="FREQUENCY" position="5">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="FREQ" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:Enumeration>
                  <Ref id="CL_FREQ" version="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="codelist" class="Codelist" />
                </structure:Enumeration>
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:Dimension>
            <structure:TimeDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" position="6">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="TIME_PERIOD" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
              <structure:LocalRepresentation>
                <structure:TextFormat textType="ObservationalTimePeriod" />
              </structure:LocalRepresentation>
            </structure:TimeDimension>
          </structure:DimensionList>
          <structure:AttributeList id="AttributeDescriptor">
            <!-- Removed attributes -->
          </structure:AttributeList>
          <structure:MeasureList id="MeasureDescriptor">
            <structure:PrimaryMeasure id="OBS_VALUE">
              <structure:ConceptIdentity>
                <Ref id="OBS_VALUE" maintainableParentID="CS_COMMON" maintainableParentVersion="1.0.0" agencyID="ABS" package="conceptscheme" class="Concept" />
              </structure:ConceptIdentity>
            </structure:PrimaryMeasure>
          </structure:MeasureList>
        </structure:DataStructureComponents>
      </structure:DataStructure>
    </structure:DataStructures>
  </message:Structures>
</message:Structure>

From the retrieved XML we can construct an idea of the dimensions:

We'll leave time period off for now, as it's handled differently to other dimensions. But by looking at the codelists I can identify that I want the following values:

Step 3: Getting the Data

All the above work means I can put together the following url to get data: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ALC/1.2.1.4.A.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- NSI Web Service v7.13.0.0 -->
<message:GenericData xmlns:message="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/message" xmlns:common="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/common" xmlns:footer="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/message/footer" xmlns:generic="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/data/generic" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
   <message:Header>
      <message:ID>IREFd9f24ed4685d4679aa008c8cdbe8a150</message:ID>
      <message:Test>true</message:Test>
      <message:Prepared>2020-09-28T12:05:50</message:Prepared>
      <message:Sender id="NOT_CONFIGURED" />
      <message:Structure structureID="ABS_ALC_1_0_0" dimensionAtObservation="TIME_PERIOD">
         <common:StructureUsage>
            <Ref agencyID="ABS" id="ALC" version="1.0.0" />
         </common:StructureUsage>
      </message:Structure>
      <message:DataSetAction>Information</message:DataSetAction>
   </message:Header>
   <message:DataSet action="Information" structureRef="ABS_ALC_1_0_0">
      <generic:Attributes>
         <generic:Value id="UNIT_MEASURE" value="L" />
      </generic:Attributes>
      <generic:Series>
         <generic:SeriesKey>
            <generic:Value id="TYP" value="1" />
            <generic:Value id="MEA" value="2" />
            <generic:Value id="BEVT" value="1" />
            <generic:Value id="SUB" value="4" />
            <generic:Value id="FREQUENCY" value="A" />
         </generic:SeriesKey>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2001" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.46" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2002" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.45" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2003" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.49" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2004" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.54" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2005" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.52" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2006" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.54" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2007" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.56" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2008" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.56" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2009" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.57" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2010" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.57" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2011" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.57" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2012" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.57" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2013" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.58" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2014" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.61" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2015" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.58" />
         </generic:Obs>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2016" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.63" />
         </generic:Obs>
      </generic:Series>
   </message:DataSet>
</message:GenericData>

That’s data for all time periods, but we only want to know about the consumption in 2008. To return just the year we want, we're going to introduce a couple of query parameters to our query. Time period is treated differently to the other dimensions, you specify time period using the query parameters startPeriod and endPeriod. By setting startPeriod to 2008 and endPeriod to 2008 we can get back only one observation. So, we use https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ALC/1.2.1.4.A?startPeriod=2008&endPeriod=2008:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<message:GenericData xmlns:message="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/message" xmlns:common="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/common" xmlns:footer="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/message/footer" xmlns:generic="http://www.sdmx.org/resources/sdmxml/schemas/v2_1/data/generic" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
   <message:Header>
      <message:ID>IREF5a16a03e911d4196a9954a5455c36c3b</message:ID>
      <message:Test>true</message:Test>
      <message:Prepared>2020-09-28T12:09:40</message:Prepared>
      <message:Sender id="NOT_CONFIGURED" />
      <message:Structure structureID="ABS_ALC_1_0_0" dimensionAtObservation="TIME_PERIOD">
         <common:StructureUsage>
            <Ref agencyID="ABS" id="ALC" version="1.0.0" />
         </common:StructureUsage>
      </message:Structure>
      <message:DataSetAction>Information</message:DataSetAction>
   </message:Header>
   <message:DataSet action="Information" structureRef="ABS_ALC_1_0_0">
      <generic:Attributes>
         <generic:Value id="UNIT_MEASURE" value="L" />
      </generic:Attributes>
      <generic:Series>
         <generic:SeriesKey>
            <generic:Value id="TYP" value="1" />
            <generic:Value id="MEA" value="2" />
            <generic:Value id="BEVT" value="1" />
            <generic:Value id="SUB" value="4" />
            <generic:Value id="FREQUENCY" value="A" />
         </generic:SeriesKey>
         <generic:Obs>
            <generic:ObsDimension id="TIME_PERIOD" value="2008" />
            <generic:ObsValue value="0.56" />
         </generic:Obs>
      </generic:Series>
   </message:DataSet>
</message:GenericData>

There we go! The answer is 0.56. But 0.56 of what? We could infer this from the measure dimension “Per capita apparent consumption (litres)” but there’s a better way - attributes. Attributes provide additional information about the data and we can see one here with the id UNIT_MEASURE. We can head back to the XML we got for the DSD to work out what it is, and what the value of L means. Doing so tells us that UNIT_MEASURE is the "Base unit in which the observation value is expressed" and L means "Litres”.

So, finally we have our answer: In 2008 the average per person consumption of mid strength beer was 0.56L (of pure alcohol).

Summary

Call https://api.data.abs.gov.au/dataflow to find our dataflow is ALC, with agency ABS.

Call https://api.data.abs.gov.au/datastructure/ABS/ALC?references=children so we get the DSD and all the codelists and conceptschemes. You can also call https://api.data.abs.gov.au/dataflow/ABS/ALC?references=descendants descendants will call references of references to any level.

Build the data call https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ALC/1.2.1.4.A?startPeriod=2008&endPeriod=2008 to get the data.

Constructing more detailed data queries

Explore Dataflow

The example above takes you through constructing an API request to return 1 observation. However, the ABS Data API has a lot of flexibility in how you can construct requests for the data you are interested in.

In this example we'll explore the Residential Dwellings dataflow which has the ID RES_DWELL. The URL below will return all information we need to know about the Residential Dwellings dataflow to construct our data request.

https://api.data.abs.gov.au/dataflow/ABS/RES_DWELL?references=descendants

Use "+" to request multiple dimension members

Once you know the Dataflow ID, Codelists, Concepts, dimensions and dimension position for the data you want to call, you can construct a GET Data request.

The OR operator is supported using the + character. The RES_DWELL dataflow has three dimensions; Measure, Region, Frequency. To use the OR operator we specify two or more codes for one dimension separated by +.

In this example we will request the Number of established house transfers for two regions; Sydney and the Rest of NSW:

This data request looks like: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ABS,RES_DWELL/1.1GSYD+1RNSW.Q?detail=Full&startPeriod=2019-Q4&endPeriod=2020-Q1

Use wildcards to request all dimension members

Wildcarding is supported by specifying no codes for a given dimension. This will return all available observations for that dimension.

To request all members of the Region dimension, replace the region codes 1GSDY+1RNSW with an empty string as a wildcard for the Region dimension: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ABS,RES_DWELL/1..Q?startPeriod=2019-Q4&endPeriod=2020-Q1

This will return the same result as if you had specified all Region IDs separated by the plus character: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ABS,RES_DWELL/1.1GSYD+1RNSW+2GMEL+2RVIC+3GBRI+3RQLD +4GADE+4RSAU+5GPER+5RWAU+6GHOB+6RTAS+7GDAR+7RNTE+8ACTE.Q?startPeriod=2019-Q2&endPeriod=2020-Q1

Use "all" to request all data

To retrieve all (unfiltered) observations for, replace the entire dataKey expression with all: https://api.data.abs.gov.au/data/ABS,RES_DWELL/all?startPeriod=2019-Q4&endPeriod=2020-Q1

Leaving the series key blank will default to all.



Last edited: 17 Feb 2021, 09:42:31