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minutes of closed meeting

Minutes of the closed meetings of COMCIFS held during the IUCr
Congress in Geneva, 2002

Two closed meetings were held in the Executive Committee room of
Palexpo, the first on 2002-08-07 and the second on 2002-08-14,
both between 1230 and 1430.  The decisions of these meetings will
be presented to the voting members of CIF for ratification.

Those attending were (the numbers indicate the meetings
David Brown (chair) (1,2)
Frances Bernstein (1,2)
Herbert Bernstein (1,2)
Ralf Grosse-Kunstleve (2)
Syd Hall (1)
Kim Henrick (1)
Owen Johnson (1)
Brian McMahon (1,2)
Lucien Pytlik (1)
Nick Spadaccini (2)
Ton Spek (1)
John Westbrook (2)

First meeting:
1. Lucien Pytlik reported on progress with the magnetic

2. Kim Henrick reported on the plans of EMBL to use the Universal
Modelling Language (UML) in their preparations for the genome
project.  Current plans call for an XML implementation with mmCIF
providing the ontology.  Discussion drew attention to the lack
of an hierarchical structure in CIF and need for methods of
manipulating related information contained in many different

ACTION (McMahon)
It was agreed to appoint a committee to address the problems of
metadata in CIF.  The committee, tentatively called the Metadata
Committee, consists of Brian McMahon (coordinator), Herbert
Bernstein, Kim Henrick and either Syd Hall or Nick Spadaccini.
The committee is to formulate the terms of reference and propose
an appropriate name (see also item 6 below).  Both the name and
the terms of reference will be presented to COMCIFS for final

3. A discussion took place on the best method for encouraging the
writing of software for CIF, but decisions were deferred to the
second meeting.

Second meeting
4. The software discussion was resumed.  It was suggested that
the COMCIFS remit extended only to the provision of dictionaries
and not to the development of software.  There was general
agreement that COMCIFS should not compete with existing
development efforts.  There was considerable discussion of issues
related to whether COMCIFS should help to coordinate the efforts
of the community using CIF.  There was strong feeling that
COMCIFS should undertake any activity needed to ensure the
success of CIF.

Out of this discussion the following actions were approved:

ACTION (McMahon)
5. Brian McMahon agreed to update the CIF web page listing of
software and dictionary projects, and to include those undertaken
outside the direct influence of COMCIFS.

ACTION (McMahon)
6. The Metadata Committee (see item 2) was asked to include in
its terms of reference a review of the problems of
interconversion between CIF and XML, specifically whether COMCIFS
should recommend a particular mapping of CIF into XML.

7. Syd Hall is to prepare a proposal to the IUCr for seed money
to allow COMCIFS to explore ways of financing a full time person
whose job would be to encourage and coordinate the development of
CIF software.  Herbert Bernstein, David Brown, and Nick
Spadaccini to collaborate.

ACTION (McMahon)
8. The current draft version on the web of the formal description
of cif grammar, modified to reserve the use of square-bracket
delimiters for future use, is to be presented to COMCIFS for
approval as a reference specification. The understanding is that
this document is not immutable but represents the best currently
available description of CIF, even though it may need modifying
in the light of experience.

9. There was a discussion of who should be included in COMCIFS
membership.  It was proposed that we introduce a formal observer
membership which would be extended to organizations with a
commitment to CIF (e.g. the Cambridge Crystallographic Data
Centre) and non-crystallographic bodies that are preparing
dictionaries that are intended to be compatible with CIF
dictionaries. (e.g. several dictionaries in the molecular biology
field).  Currently there are two classes of membership: voting
members appointed by the IUCr Executive Committee and non-voting
members appointed by the chair (but generally including anyone
with an interest in CIF).  Introducing a formal observer
membership would ensure that constituencies with an interest in
CIF are present at our discussions.  Suggestions of names for
such observers should be forwarded to Brian McMahon for inclusion
in the COMCIFS list server.

10. A proposal by Westbrook to change the meaning of the acronym
'CIF' from 'Crystallographic Information File' to 'Comprehensive
Information Framework' was advanced.  This will be brought to
COMCIFS for discussion.

The meeting adjourned at 1426.

Dr.I.David Brown,  Professor Emeritus
Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research,
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tel: 1-(905)-525-9140 ext 24710
Fax: 1-(905)-521-2773