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Re: Proposed COMCIFS terms of reference

Dear Colleagues,

   I have marked up a proposed revised draft below.  The changed sections
are marked with <<<***>>>.  The major changes are to move the focus
from CIF as a file to CIF as a framework and to allow for the creation
of a hierarchy among DMGs.




The purpose of COMCIFS is to maintain on behalf of the International Union of
Crystallography (IUCr) of

<<<***>>>a coherent framework (the Crystallographic Information
  Framework -- the CIF standard, or CIF) for the management of
information related to the content of the publications of the
IUCr and the scientific activities of crystallographers
based on machine-readable compilations of names and attribute sets
for individual data items (CIF dictionaries) and software useful
in the management of CIF.  The current state of CIF has been known
as "The Crystallographic Information File", [Hall, Allen & Brown
(1991). Acta Cryst. A47, 655-685 and was subsequently documented in
International Tables for Crystallography (2005). Vol. G. Definition
and exchange of crystallographic data, 1st ed. Berlin: Springer].
COMCIFS will corrodinate the evolution of the Crystalloographic
Information File and to such other CIF implementations as are
necessary to ensure that electronic archives of crystallographic
information can be held in a form that can be accessed and used by
any discipline that may require this information.

This purpose includes, but is not limited to, the following activities.
1. To establish policies defining the use of the Crystallographic
Information Framework (CIF).

2. To receive and examine all proposed amendments and extensions to
the CIF standard. In particular, to ratify proposed data names
and definitions, to ensure that the data structures
conform to the basic CIF specifications, and to ensure that the
definitions of data items are clear and unambiguous and conform to
accepted IUCr usage.

3. To ensure that all accepted amendments and extensions to the CIF
standard are announced in an appropriate publication or news item in
an IUCr publication.

4. To ensure that adequate current documentation of the CIF standard
is available to potential users in both printed and machine-readable forms.

5. To coordinate with other organisations proposing CIF related
dictionaries using STAR files or compatible representations to ensure 
maximum compatibility between  Crystallographic Information Files and 
related file structures.

6. To coordinate with other crystallographic organisations proposing
non-CIF standards to ensure maximum compatibility.

7. To coordinate with writers of software intended to read and write
data compatible with CIF.

<<<*** I recommend silence on the next item ***>>>

8. To ensure that those using CIF are aware of its ownership by the
IUCr and the conditions under which it may be used.

9. To establish standards in related dictionaries and software
necessary to ensure the integrity of CIF.

10. To ensure that archives conforming to CIF can be made available
in formats accessible to users in related fields.

1. Voting members COMCIFS should consist of about 6 voting members
appointed by the Executive Committee of the IUCr on the recommendation
of COMCIFS. Membership would normally be for a three year
renewable term. A membership slate will be presented to the Executive
Committee of the IUCr for approval following each IUCr Congress.
Voting members will be knowledgeable in the area of electronic
manipulation of information and representative of the various
fields of crystallography.  COMCIFS will have a chair and secretary
appointed by the Executive Committee. The secretary need not be
a voting member.

2. Observers
Observers are individuals nominated by and representing other
organisations, or individuals wishing to participate in, or be
aware of, COMCIFS business. They  will receive all COMCIFS
mailings and are free to comment on any COMCIFS business. Observers
will have no vote.  Observers are appointed at the discretion of
the chair of COMCIFS.   There is no limit to the number of observers
that may be appointed.


1. COMCIFS is accountable to the Executive Committee of the IUCr and
reports through the Executive Secretary.

2. Dictionary Maintenance Groups
For each approved CIF dictionary, COMCIFS will appoint a Dictionary 
Maintenance Group (DMG) to make recommendations on revisions to the 
Membership of each DMG will be approved by COMCIFS. The groups will 
establish their own mode  of operation, but will be expected to 
consult widely with the community served by the  dictionary and to 
refer back to COMCIFS any matters that involve a change in current 
COMCIFS policy.

<<<***>>> COMCIFS may establish hierarchical relationships among various
DMGs in which higher level DMGs will have responsibility for coordinating
interactions among lower level DMGs.  In general only the DMGs on the
two levels immediately below COMCIFS will report to COMCIFS, but all
DMGs retain the right to bring disagreements about the actions of other
DMGs to the attention of DMGs higher in their hierarchy tree or to COMCIFS
for resolution.<<<***>>>

3. Working Groups
Working Groups may be established by the Chair to report to COMCIFS
on particular matters, including (but not limited to) the production 
of draft dictionaries in areas not currently covered by CIF 
dictionaries. The mandate of a working group ends when its  report 
has been received by COMCIFS.

4. COMCIFS Policy
Decisions of the DMGs and Working Groups do not become COMCIFS policy
until approved by COMCIFS.

At 4:04 PM -0400 10/3/05, David Brown wrote:
>At the meetings of COMCIFS at the IUCr Congress in Florence, it was 
>agreed, with the blessing of the IUCr Executive Committee, to extend 
>the 'Purpose' of COMCIFS in our 'Terms of Reference' to reflect the 
>changes in information technology that have occured since they were 
>first adopted over ten years ago.  CIF is no longer the only file 
>structure of its kind and this needs to be recognized as well as the 
>distinction between the CIF dictionaries and the CIF syntax.  The 
>attached file contains a proposal for revised Terms of Reference and 
>is posted here for discussion.  After any ammendment, it will be 
>voted on by the voting members of COMCIFS and passed to the 
>Executive Committee for their approval.
>I have taken the opportunity in this document to introduce the 
>phrase 'Crystallographic Information Framework' as an expansion of 
>CIF where the acronym is applied to the CIF dictionaries and syntax 
>(the original expansion can still be used when referring to a file 
>containing crystallographic information in CIF format).  The new 
>expansion was suggested by John Westbrook and unanimously accepted 
>by those present at the meeting in Florence.
>If you have any comments or suggestions for improvements, please 
>send them in a reply to this message.
>David Brown
>Chair of COMCIFS
>Attachment converted: Macintosh HD:DraftTermsOfReference2005.pdf 
>(PDF /«IC») (001C17E4)
>Attachment converted: Macintosh HD:idbrown 36.vcf (TEXT/ttxt) (001C17E5)
>comcifs mailing list

  Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
    Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
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