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Tentative agenda for COMCIFS closed meetings Aug 28th and Aug 29th

  • To: "Discussion list of the IUCr Committee for the Maintenance of the CIF Standard (COMCIFS)" <comcifs@iucr.org>
  • Subject: Tentative agenda for COMCIFS closed meetings Aug 28th and Aug 29th
  • From: James Hester <jamesrhester@gmail.com>
  • Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2011 12:45:30 +1000
Dear COMCIFS members:

Below is a tentative agenda for the two COMCIFS closed meetings. Note that the Aug 29th meeting will occur directly after MS89, at which Nick Spadaccini and Syd Hall will be presenting a revised version of DDLm. I expect that presentation to provoke considerable discussion, which is why the Aug 29th meeting will be entirely devoted to CIF2 and DDLm discussion. Please advise if you would like anything added to the agenda on Aug 28th.

COMCIFS meeting agenda: Aug 28th

1. Brief report from chair on developments in previous triennium
2. COMCIFS directions over next triennium:
(i) reforming dictionary management (see also Brian MacMahon's email of July 6th)
(ii) developing a solid software base (APIs, canonical parser libraries in C/C++)
(iii) other concerns to be raised by members

COMCIFS meeting agenda: Aug 29th

3. Discussion of DDLm as presented in MS89
4. Subject to outcome, if any, of (3), *final* vote on CIF2 syntax draft as distributed by email last week
5. Any other business

Explanation of item 2(i):

I propose partitioning dictionaries that are managed by COMCIFS into three groups:
(i) the 'core' group which are small enough and/or general enough for COMCIFS members to be able to approve both content and technical conformance;
(ii) a 'delegated' group where COMCIFS delegates management of dictionary content to an outside body or dictionary management group; once COMCIFS has voted to delegate this management, no further votes would be required to approve dictionary content or updates, but technical correctness would be checked;
(iii) a 'contributed' group where COMCIFS makes no statement as to scientific content and simply checks technical conformance. This group would correspond to those dictionaries that Brian was discussing in his email, and technical conformance would mean a simple syntax and DDL conformance check, not requiring a vote at COMCIFS level.

Explanation of item 2(ii):

Over the years COMCIFS has had various initiatives to produce and promote CIF software, but we are still at the stage where it is difficult to find a standalone CIF parser written in C that could serve as a starting point for integration into other languages, scripting or compiled, or could be dropped into a larger software project. Part of such an effort would be development of an API. I propose that COMCIFS set itself the entirely modest goal of developing and approving an API and a modular C parser before the next meeting. We will discuss the best way forward.

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