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COMCIFS draft report 2021

Please see below a draft of the report to the IUCr Executive for 2021.If you see any omissions or can think of some improvements please letme know by the end of the week.

COMCIFS report 2021===================
COMCIFS is responsible for maintaining and developing the suite ofstandards known as the Crystallographic Information Framework (CIF) onbehalf of the IUCr. These standards include a data format (CIF), amultitude of discipline-specific dictionaries describing the contentsof data files, and the language in which these dictionaries arewritten (DDLm). The Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB) is separatelyresponsible for a large and rapidly expanding collection of CIFdefinitions that encompass concepts and techniques used in themacromolecular community.
At the start of 2021 COMCIFS consisted of five voting members and abroad collection of advisers and observers. The voting members wereJames Hester (Chair), John Bollinger (Co-Secretary), Brian McMahon(Co-Secretary), John Westbrook, and Herbert Bernstein.  A productiveCOMCIFS business meeting was held online at the end of Augustfollowing the IUCr meeting. In addition to this meeting, ongoingCOMCIFS business was conducted as usual via the associated IUCrmailing lists.
2021 saw the untimely death of long-time voting member JohnWestbrook. John played a pivotal role in the development of COMCIFSstandards over more than two decades, particularly in relation to thewwPDB, whose interests he also represented on COMCIFS. A replacementto represent the macromolecular community is being sought.
Dictionary development
No new dictionaries were approved this year, and no new data nameswere added to the core dictionary. A considerable amount of technicaldevelopment took place, centred around online Github dictionaryrepositories. Enhancements included automated syntax and semanticchecking of dictionary updates. A surprising amount of effort wasneeded to develop a "Dictionary Style Guide", specifying precisely howplain-text dictionaries should be formatted: a standard layout makesit simple to assess changes to dictionaries, and to use automatedtools for dictionary editing and updating.
The IUCr journals adopted imgCIF as part of a workflow for dealingwith raw data files. As part of this effort extensions to imgCIF weredesigned for referencing external data, and, as imgCIF was originallydeveloped as an adjunct to the macromolecular mmCIF dictionary, a wayin which imgCIF data names could be combined with data names from thecore dictionary was checked and specified.
International Tables Volume G
COMCIFS members are closely involved with the preparation of thesecond edition of International Tables Volume G ("Production andexchange of crystallographic data"). This year saw several of thenew dictionary chapters move to the review stage, with only oneof the new dictionary chapters outstanding. Further information isavailable in the report of the Commission for International Tables.
Interactions with other groups
COMCIFS is represented on the NeXus International Advisory Committee(NIAC), which primarily develops the NeXus raw data standards forlarge facilities. No developments relevant to CIF occurred this year.Links were also maintained with the Open Databases Integration forMaterials Design (OPTIMADE) initiative, and with the Crystallographydomain of the European Materials and Modelling Ontology (EMMO)consortium. As a result of these links J Hester gave a presentationdescribing CIF at a related ontology workshop in October.
COMCIFS is also closely involved with the IUCr Committee on Data (CommDat).
Looking forward
As flagged in previous years, an ever-shrinking group of people isdrawn upon to support CIF maintenance and development. This situationis not sustainable, particularly as the first generation of CIFexperts move into retirement. Ideas on how this situation might beremedied were discussed with the IUCr Executive and at the AugustCOMCIFS business meeting, and at least some of them should be realisedin the near future.
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