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Draft Annual Report

  • To: "Discussion list of the IUCr Committee for the Maintenance of the CIF Standard (COMCIFS)" <comcifs@iucr.org>
  • Subject: Draft Annual Report
  • From: James Hester <jamesrhester@gmail.com>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 12:50:52 +1000
Dear COMCIFS members and observers,

I'm attaching below a draft annual report to the IUCr executive for
2008.  If anybody thinks I've missed something important, please let
me know as soon as possible as the deadline is tomorrow (24th May).

COMCIFS report 2008

The central event for COMCIFS this year was the Osaka congress, where
two closed meetings and one microsymposium were held. New standards
for writing CIF dictionaries (DDLm and dREL) were accepted in draft
form at the meeting, subject to some technical refinements. DDLm
represents a merging and enhancement of the original dictionary
languages (DDL1 and DDL2). The new standards will, among other things,
permit more modularity in dictionary construction and allow
mathematical relationships between CIF data items to be expressed in a
way that permits fully automated calculation of derived values.

imgCIF and the associated Crystallographic Binary Format (CBF) once
again saw significant activity in 2008, including roundtable technical
discussions with manufacturers and software developers during the
Osaka congress. CBF is seeing increasing takeup, with manufacturers
providing or developing CBF support for their detectors now including
Pilatus, ADSC, Rayonix and Rigaku. Software support for CBF is also
improving, with MOSFLM, ADXV and XDS all supporting CBF input.
Following work at a number of laboratories this year, programming
libraries for CBF support now exist in all major programming languages
used in handling diffraction images.

While technical development has been the focus of activity during the
year, dictionaries also continue to be maintained and upgraded. An
updated core CIF dictionary (version 2.4) was released in April,
representing the culmination of several years' work. Following the
publication of Volume A1 of International Tables, G. Madariaga is
leading a group which will resume work on updating and expanding the
symmetry CIF dictionary to include the information in the new volume.

As other scientific disciplines and organisations begin to tackle the
problem of data portability and archiving, interoperability of CIF
with other data frameworks is becoming important. NeXuS is a framework
for raw data storage which has seen broad adoption in X-ray and
neutron facilities. Working links with the NeXuS community were
established this year, including a presentation to the NeXuS advisory
committee (the equivalent of COMCIFS). Discussions on how best to
interoperate are ongoing. COMCIFS have also established a working
group to explore how CIF, and particularly mmCIF, might interact with
the Open Biomedical Ontologies project (OBO), which aims to codify
concepts and relationships in biological and medical fields.

The Osaka meeting also saw a changing of the guard, with N. Spadaccini
and myself replacing outgoing members H. Berman, S. R. Hall, G.
Madariaga and I. D. Brown. I. D. Brown also stepped down as Chair
after 15 years of dedicated service, for which I would like to thank
him on behalf of the committee.

James Hester.

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