Getting to know Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser

Several people have been asking me about Beyond 20/20 training in recent weeks.  Fortunately, Beyond 20/20 provides a number of online training videos to help new users understand how it works.  This post explains Beyond 20/20, and provides links to the training videos for Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser.  It's intended for members of the Community Data Program who aren't familiar with the .ivt format.  So let's dive in.

What are Beyond 20/20 and the .ivt format?

Statistics Canada has historically made data available in .ivt format.  Many of the datasets in the catalogue are available uniquely in this format, including Census data.  You can only open .ivt tables with Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser.  Beyond 20/20 is the company that makes the software to view the files.

Why do I need to know how to use Beyond 20/20?

I can conservatively assume that the majority of users are most familiar with Excel, that some are familiar with SPSS or SAS or STATA, and that fewer still are familiar with ArcGIS.  Only a handful, I imagine, are particularly proficient with Beyond 20/20.  Regardless of the software you're most comfortable with, you'll need to understand the basics of Beyond 20/20 in order to open, view, and export (into the format of your choice) much of the data in the Catalogue.

Why are datasets published in .ivt format?

Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser is a useful program for viewing multidimensional datasets.  That is, datasets with built-in crosstabulations.  For example, Table 3 from the 2006 Urban Poverty Project custom census order is a multidimensional dataset:


Age Groups (8), Sex (3), Income Status Before Tax (3) and Selected Educational and Labour Force Characteristics (84) for the Population 15 Years and Over Living in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Divisions and Census Subdivisions, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data UPP - Urban Poverty Project custom order

The dimensions in this table are Age Groups, Sex, Income Status Before Tax, and Selected Educational and Labour Force Characteristics.  Each dimension has a  number of items within it:

So in the above dataset, you could look up the number of people who are simultaneously aged 25 to 34, employed, low income, female, and postsecondary-educated.  (In the Census Subdivision of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue west of Montreal, for example, there are 35 individuals who fit these criteria.  If you try this out for yourself and find the same number as me, you're doing great!) 

Getting back to the question: Finding this kind of information in a standard database would require more specialised knowledge of SQL.  Beyond 20/20 makes it easy for ordinary users, and that is its advantage.

How can I learn to use Beyond 20/20?

Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser is free to download and you can find free, easy-to-follow video tutorials on their website.  I would recommend opening any multidimensional dataset from the Catalogue and playing around with it for five or ten minutes.  Try the one listed above if you'd like.  It doesn't take long to get used to.  Promise.

All tutorials are listed at this URL:

And as usual, send an email to if you need any assistance.  Happy data!