A DataContext represents a Great Expectations project. It organizes storage and access for expectation suites, datasources, notification settings, and data fixtures.

The DataContext is configured via a yml file stored in a directory called great_expectations; the configuration file as well as managed expectation suites should be stored in version control.

DataContexts use data sources you’re already familiar with. Generators help introspect data stores and data execution frameworks (such as airflow, Nifi, dbt, or dagster) to describe and produce batches of data ready for analysis. This enables fetching, validation, profiling, and documentation of your data in a way that is meaningful within your existing infrastructure and work environment.

DataContexts use a datasource-based namespace, where each accessible type of data has a three-part normalized data_asset_name, consisting of datasource/generator/generator_asset.

  • The datasource actually connects to a source of data and returns Great Expectations DataAssets connected to a compute environment and ready for validation.

  • The Generator knows how to introspect datasources and produce identifying “batch_kwargs” that define particular slices of data.

  • The generator_asset is a specific name – often a table name or other name familiar to users – that generators can slice into batches.

An expectation suite is a collection of expectations ready to be applied to a batch of data. Since in many projects it is useful to have different expectations evaluate in different contexts–profiling vs. testing; warning vs. error; high vs. low compute; ML model or dashboard–suites provide a namespace option for selecting which expectations a DataContext returns.

A Great Expectations DataContext describes data assets using a three-part namespace consisting of datasource_name, generator_name, and generator_asset.

To run validation for a data_asset, we need two additional elements:

  • a batch to validate; in our case it is a file loaded into a Pandas DataFrame

  • an expectation_suite to validate against


In many simple projects, the datasource or generator name may be omitted and the DataContext will infer the correct name when there is no ambiguity.

The DataContext also provides other services, such as storing and substituting evaluation parameters during validation. See DataContext Evaluation Parameter Store for more information.

See the Data Context Reference for more information.