A Standard File Format for Data Interchange
ARMY TOPOGRAPHIC ENGINEERING CENTER FORT BELVOIR VA
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This paper defines a new format and an associated method for encoding data in a set of files. This new format has advantages of simplicity, efficiency, and readability over current formats and their associated methods. A new format is necessary because all current widely available file formats retain restrictions such as fixed field lengths that are no longer necessary with modern programming languages. The proposed format has a simple syntax and flexible semantics. The main advantage of PDEF is its lack of fix semantics. This allows unforeseen data types and dependencies to be encoded without modifying the basic format. The PDEF format is efficient both for computers and people. It is efficient for computers because it uses the powerful parsing tools available for the C programming language. It is efficient for people because it encodes data descriptions in a human-readable form, and the content of a data set can be understood without a users manual. PDEF stands for Protean Data Exchange Format owing to the ability of this format to encode many types of data.
- Information Science