Crystallographic Information Framework

COMCIFS Dictionary Writing Workshop

A Companion Workshop to the 24th Congress and General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography

Meeting Room 1.04, Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad, India
August 21, 2017

The Dictionary Writing Workshop will provide participants with the skills to create high-quality dictionary definitions and complete data dictionaries suitable either for inclusion within the CIF/mmCIF framework or as standalone dictionaries for use within other data frameworks, such as NeXus. Participants will be guided during practical sessions towards the goal of producing a complete dictionary or set of additional definitions in a scientific domain of interest to them.


At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the role that dictionaries play in data specifications
  • Understand how datanames are stored in a variety of data formats (including "3-column ASCII"/CIF/NeXus)
  • Construct a high-quality dataname definition
  • Construct a DDL2/m domain dictionary potentially building on previously-existing dictionaries and/or previously-existing data standards

Participants wishing to construct a dictionary for a particular domain are encouraged to bring a wish list of the items for inclusion in the dictionary to the workshop, and will be guided throughout the workshop in constructing their particular dictionary.

Prerequisites: There are no specific requirements. In particular, no programming or CIF experience is assumed.


James Hester (ACNS, ANSTO, Australia)

Supporting materials

A handout used at the Workshop may be downloaded here. Contents include

  • Components of a Data Transfer Framework
  • The Relational Model
  • Creating formal dictionaries
  • Dictionaries for complex raw data such as images
  • Appendix 1: DDLm dictionary
  • Appendix 2: DDL2 dictionary
  • Appendix 3: Classification and use of image data
  • Appendix 4: General considerations when defining a CIF data item