World Bank Tutorials: The Bank has developed an online tutorial and Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) page which deals with the basics of using their web sites. To find both the tutorial and FAQs go to http://databank.worldbank.org/data/home.aspx. This brings you to the main DataBank page. There are links in the top paragraph to both the tutorial and the FAQs. The tutorial is a video on using the World Development Indicators data base-- the video demonstrates use of the site with a few written comments in English and a commentary. The FAQs, for which there is a link in the same paragraph. clarify many of the points demonstrated in the tutorial. The tutorial may be confusing to users not used to data bases. One solution would be to watch the tutorial and read the FAQs, then go to the data base (Click World Development Indicators in the section Explore Databases and try to create downloads, tables, etc. Then review both the tutorial and the FAQs. The data base seems daunting at first, but quickly becomes routine once you use it.
Spreadsheet Download: The Bank has also prepared a bulk download of all the country data back to 1960 from the WDI which can be downloaded in either Excel format or CSV format (both in zipped files).. These downloads are available at http://datatopics.worldbank.org/world-development-indicators/" Go to "Access Data" and click on "Bulk Download". The Excel version includes worksheets with information on the data and the data definitions while these are downloaded as separate files in the csv version. Since 2013 the Bank has made a number of additional tables which can be downloaded in spreadsheet format at http://wdi.worldbank.org/tables.
Downloading Data: The databases allow data to be downloaded as Excel tables (which download data in XLS format), or CSV (comma separated values) both of which are compatible with most spreadsheet software. The downloading process creates a small window which allows the user to determine how to process the download either saving it or opening it in software the user can select--normally this will be a spreadsheet like Excel or LibreCalc after which it can be saved normally. If the download is saved in Windows it will automatically go into the download directory in the User directory unless a different selection is made in the browser download options. If the data is saved using Ubuntu the window will be opened and the user will be able to assign a name and a directory to which the file will be saved.
Microdata, Sub-National and Shapefile Data-- The Bank is also publishing increasing volumes of data at the national and sub-national level, including GIS shapefiles. This material is available at http://microdata.worldbank.org .