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Re: [ddlm-group] CIF 1.5

Dear Colleagues

I agree with James. The remit of this group was to finalise DDLm. An
early conclusion was that this necessarily involved syntax changes at
the STAR level, and the consequent discussions have revolved around
the idea of providing a specification for CIF (essentially at the
syntax level) that took advantage of these syntactic changes and
allowed uniform handling of CIF data files and DDLm dictionaries. For
me, the immediate benefit of these discussions has been a much more
complete account of what needs to be done upstream, at the STAR level,
to accommodate the changes that are desirable in downstream (CIF and
DDLm applications) at some point.

So, for example, the STAR spec needs formally to be revised to allow
Unicode character sets (certainly UTF-8, which is what we settled on
for CIF; as far as I recall, it's still possible that the STAR
revision could allow other Unicode encodings that Herbert needs
for imgCIF, and I'd be interested in knowing whether the new spec
could also allow the inclusion of full binary data streams so that
CBF could properly become one of the STAR family of formats). There
must also be the new delimiter characters and formal rules for
handling list items.

We've developed these conclusions by using various use cases and
Gedankenexperimente, but we've not, in the main, been driven by the
need to meet real problems currently difficult of solution in the
community. Indeed, recent work with embedded visualisation scripts and
incorporation of TeX mathematical fragments into CIFs destined for
publication in Acta show that there's much more that can still be
achieved within the existing syntactic framework.

So let us complete the job of finalising the specifications (STAR++,
DDLm, CIF2.0), and then involve the wider community in discussing
how, when and if they are to be implemented.

Brian

On Tue, Dec 01, 2009 at 02:30:09PM +1100, James Hester wrote:
> Dear Herbert and colleagues,
> 
> Little quibble: I wrote 'one more type' rather than 'more than one type'.
> 
> Anyway, I suggest that we concentrate on finalising CIF2.0 syntax, then put
> a draft out for discussion in the broader community, and if there is
> sufficient feedback to the effect of 'we need an intermediate format', then
> we can address the issue of CIF1.5.  Addressing it now distracts us from the
> task of putting CIF2.0 to bed, which we will still need to do in any case.
> 
> On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 11:17 AM, Herbert J. Bernstein <
> yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:
> 
>> Dear James,
>>
>>  Please look at the following part of your first paragraph:
>>
>>
>> "with a commitment to support CIF1.1 for the long term and a guaranteed way
>> to distinguish the two types of data files."
>>
>> and please look at the following part of your second paragraph
>>
>>
>> "Furthermore, they now have to support one more type of file going into the
>> future."
>>
>> I seem to be missing something.  If we are going to support CIF 1.1 for
>> the long term and we are going to have CIF 2 be a very different file type,
>> then it is not CIF 1.5 that will cause software devlopers to have
>> to support one more file type going into the future, but the fundamental
>> decisions made by this group.
>>
>> If you support CIF 1.1 and a very different CIF 2, then you are going to
>> end up with mixed files, i.e. multiple ad hoc CIF 1.5 (or actually CIF
>> 1.55) files.  All I am doing is proposing to formalize what is going to
>> happen anyway.
>>
>>  I've had my say.
>>
>>
>>  Regards,
>>    Herbert
>>
>>
>> =====================================================
>>  Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
>>   Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
>>        Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769
>>
>>                 +1-631-244-3035
>>                 yaya@dowling.edu
>> =====================================================
>>
>> On Tue, 1 Dec 2009, James Hester wrote:
>>
>>  (Note to those reading this later: this continues a thread started within
>>> the 'space as
>>> list item separator' thread.  I recommend reading those messages before
>>> continuing on
>>> here).
>>>
>>> (For those who came in late:
>>> We flirted with the idea of a minimally disruptive path from CIF1.1 to
>>> CIF2.0 back in the
>>> beginning of this group (late September/early October, I believe) , and
>>> ended up choosing
>>> to define one maximally disruptive CIF2.0 standard together with a
>>> commitment to support
>>> CIF1.1 for the long term and a guaranteed way to distinguish the two types
>>> of data files.)
>>>
>>> Picking up the CIF1.5 discussion...
>>> Introducing CIF1.5 is a further source of confusion.  Apart from this, it
>>> produces extra
>>> workload for software authors.  Herb has essentially defined CIF1.5 as
>>> CIF1.1 plus new
>>> syntactical elements (or in other words CIF2.0 minus character set
>>> limitations and UTF8).
>>> So in order to support CIF1.5, authors of both CIF reading and CIF writing
>>> software have
>>> to add this new syntax.  Then when they decide to support CIF2.0, they
>>> have to once again
>>> revisit their software.  I would have thought it far more sensible to ask
>>> them to update
>>> and distribute their software only once.  Furthermore, they now have to
>>> support one more
>>> type of file going into the future.
>>>
>>> I see absolutely no benefit in this idea.
>>>
>>> On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 9:40 AM, Herbert J. Bernstein <
>>> yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:
>>>      Dear James,
>>>
>>>       The point is that we will need to make it easy for people working
>>> with
>>>      CIF 1 and CIF 1.1 based tools to cobble together valid CIF 2 data.
>>>  The
>>>      most important bit will be a way to include vectors and matrices in
>>> their
>>>      data.  This will allow them to do it.
>>>
>>>       Please note that it hase taken several years to just get to the
>>> point
>>>      where we are beginning to rigorously define CIF 2.  If we are lucky,
>>> it
>>>      will only take a few years to have a full set of tools to allow users
>>>      and software writers to reliably produce true CIF 2 data.
>>>
>>>       Regards,
>>>         Herbert
>>>
>>>      =====================================================
>>>       Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
>>>        Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
>>>             Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769
>>>
>>>                      +1-631-244-3035
>>>                      yaya@dowling.edu
>>>      =====================================================
>>>
>>> On Tue, 1 Dec 2009, James Hester wrote:
>>>
>>>      Dear Herbert: as CIF 1.1 doesn't define lists, I'm not sure why you
>>>      suggest that the
>>>      example below is a valid tag.
>>>
>>>      On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 12:36 AM, Herbert J. Bernstein
>>>      <yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com>
>>>      wrote:
>>>           Sorry something got lost in the prior message.  It should have
>>>           read:
>>>
>>>                 Dear Colleagues,
>>>
>>>                  Back to the question of commas.  If you accept the
>>>                  desirability of having a CIF 1.5, commas in lists
>>>                  become very useful. Someone with
>>>                  a CIF 1.1 editor will be able to prepare a CIF 1.5 file
>>>                  for many useful cases by doing all lists with commas
>>>                  and no embedded blanks as long as they can make their
>>>                  lists fit on single lines.
>>>
>>>                  In CIF 1.1
>>>
>>>                 [[1,2,3],[4,5,6],[7,8,9]]
>>>
>>>                 is a valid value for a tag, but
>>>
>>>                 [[1 2 3] [4 5 6] [7 8 9]]
>>>      is not.
>>>
>>>      No, neither example is a valid CIF 1.1 tag.  CIF 1.1 explicitly
>>>      excludes brackets as the first character of a non-delimited string.
>>>
>>>
>>>                 Having the option of commas in lists will help to smooth
>>>                 the transition for at least some people.
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