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Re: Revised CIF syntax guidelines

Dear Colleagues,

   With regret, and after careful consideration, I will vote no on this
proposal because of the phrase "only if" in section 1 makes 1.(i), 1.(ii),
1.(iv) excessively restrictive and because section 3 would prevent
discussion of human factors issue.  Without items 1.(i), 1.(ii), 1.(iv)
and 3 I would vote for the document.


At 3:20 PM +1100 3/31/11, James Hester wrote:
>Please find below a slightly revised version of the guidelines for
>developing base CIF syntax and semantics.  I have taken the version
>most recently posted by John Bollinger, and following discussion with
>John Westbrook, have added a couple of points relating to maintaining
>compatibility with previous versions of CIF (1 (vi) and (vii)).  Note
>also that I have also adjusted the text in 1 (ii) to refer to
>scientific domains in which CIF is used, rather than scientific
>domains in general.
>I plan to call a vote on accepting these guidelines following a short
>further period for discussion of the revision below.
>Principles guiding development of Base CIF 2.0
>CIF is a framework for exchanging and archiving scientific data,
>featuring a human-readable, machine-parseable, file format designed to
>serve as an exchange and archive medium.  'Base' CIF comprises the
>definitions and constraints that underlie CIF and apply to all CIF
>files; those aspects defining the CIF file format are documented in
>the CIF Syntax specification and the CIF Common Semantic Features
>Base CIF aims to remain as simple as possible by delegating
>considerations such as ontology, vocabulary, data relationships, and
>complex and rich data types to domain dictionaries and the DDL
>formalisms by which those dictionaries are defined.  In the following,
>the phrase 'domain level' refers to such documents (though it is
>anticipated that only dictionaries, not DDLs, will be
>domain-specific).  Definitions and constraints at domain level apply
>to a particular CIF file only as declared by that file or as required
>by a particular CIF processor in a particular context.
>The design of base CIF 2.0 is guided by these principles:
>1. A feature should be added to or changed in base CIF only if all of
>the following are satisfied:
>  (i) Implementation of the desired behavior by changes at the domain
>level is not feasible, or else such changes, while feasible,  would
>significantly reduce human readability;
>  (ii) the change provides significant new functionality that is widely
>applicable to those scientific domains where CIF is used
>  (iii) reliable transfer and archiving of data is not compromised
>  (iv) there is no simpler way of achieving the desired behaviour
>  (v) it has been shown possible to implement the change at a cost
>commensurate with its benefits, as demonstrated in part by a rough
>consensus and running code.
>  (vi) Where possible, any new CIF syntax features should be developed
>as an extension to the current standard, and thus not change the
>interpretation of archival files that conform with previous versions
>of the CIF standard.
>  (vii) Where it is impractical to provide for full backward compatibility as
>described in (vi), the relevant archival repositories and software developers
>should be consulted to arrive at a solution that will minimize the impact of
>such changes.
>2. As long as the requirements in (1) are satisfied, base CIF should:
>  (i) behave in a way that is consistent with common usage
>  (ii) align with pre-existing standards where those standards provide
>the required behaviour. CIF 1.1 can be considered a pre-existing
>standard for CIF 2.0 in this context.
>3. Non-technical issues should be dealt with in non-technical arenas.
>4. Draft changes to base CIF will be made available on the IUCr
>website for public comment for a period of at least 6 weeks, following
>which COMCIFS voting members, after consideration of any objections
>raised, can vote to accept the change. A change will be accepted if
>3/4 of COMCIFS voting members approve it.
>T +61 (02) 9717 9907
>F +61 (02) 9717 3145
>M +61 (04) 0249 4148
>comcifs mailing list

  Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
    Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
         Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769

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