Crystallographic Information Framework

COMCIFS Dictionary Writing Workshop

A Companion Workshop to the 26th Congress and General Assembly of the International Union of Crystallography

Room 206, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
August 21, 2023

The workshop provided an introduction to writing and working with CIF dictionaries. Topics covered included an introduction to CIF dictionaries, writing individual definitions for existing dictionaries, writing new dictionaries for topic areas, creating dREL methods, and writing software that uses CIF dictionaries.

The CIF dictionaries underpin the crystallographic data management framework that has been so successful over the last 30 years. This workshop aims to grow the pool of competent CIF dictionary authors, which is more important than ever as the previous generation of CIF authors moves toward retirement.


9.25am Opening (James Hester)
9.30am Introduction to the CIF Ontology (Brian McMahon) | presentation and notes
10.00am The relational underpinnings of CIF (James Hester) | presentation
10.45am Morning tea
11.00am Structure of a CIF dictionary (Brian McMahon) | presentation
11.30am Dictionary creation exercise (James Hester)
12.30pm Lunch
2.00pm Dictionary creation exercise - conclusion
2.30pm Using Github (Matthew Rowles) | presentation
  Using Github: some simple workflows
4.00pm Afternoon tea
4.30pm Strategies for writing CIF software | presentation
5.00pm Discussion

Supporting materials

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

  • Introduction
  • Provisional timetable
  • Creating and expanding CIF dictionaries
  • Management and use of CIF dictionaries
  • Appendix 1: DDLm dictionary
  • Appendix 2: Style guide for DDLm dictionaries
  • Appendix 3: 30 Years of CIF
  • Appendix 4: Additional resources