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CIF Binary Format



imgCIF/CBF is an initiative to extend the IUCr CIF concept to cover efficient storage of 2-D area detector data and other large datasets.

Information on CIF is available from the IUCr, while links for different CIF projects are available from this site. mmCIF information, dictionaries and software tools are available from the mmCIF home page. The imgCIF/CBF group is working closely with the COMCIFS committee to ensure that CBF does not diverge from CIF.

Efficient storage of large images requires binary storage so a CIF format cannot be used directly. Thus, the Crystallographic Binary File (CBF) format is proposed. This contains both pseudo-ASCII header sections which contain CIF data names and values, and binary sections which contain image and other data in binary formats described in the headers. Because of the binary nature of the file, the "line separators" used in the pseudo-ASCII section are always the pair of ASCII characters carriage-return, line-feed regardless of the operating system on which the file is created or transferred. The current draft version of the CBF format is available.


The Crystallographic Binary File (CBF) Draft Format

NOBUGS II imgCIF/CBF Presentation:
The Crystallographic Binary File (CBF) Format

Draft CBF Dictionary Version 0.2 (HTML)

Draft CBF Dictionary Version 0.2 (ASCII)

Proposed CBF Category Hierarchy

CBF Workshop Summary and Working Plans


The format continues to be developed from e-mail discussions held by the imgCIF group. A list server is run by John Skinner and Bob Sweet at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. To subscribe to the group send an e-mail to listproc@bnl.gov with the body containing:

subscribe imgCIF-l name@address
where name@address is replaced by your user name and address.

A message should be automatically returned explaining use of the server. Having subscribed, messages may be send to imgcif-l@bnl.gov.

CIF is copyrighted by the IUCr and it is intended that CBF would eventually be treated in the same manner. The copyright protects the usage of the format for the whole community while allowing free usage. See the IUCr official statement of policy on the use of CIF/STAR.


Some Examples of Image Data

[Processed collagen 2-D Fiber diffraction pattern] [2-D Powder pattern from an olivine sample] [Protein diffraction pattern collected on BM-14 at the ESRF]

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