Common Data Format Version 2.5 Underway

Volume 10, Numbers 3 & 4, December 1994
by Greg Goucher and Jason Mathews
Version 2.5 of the Common Data Format (CDF) software and documentation has been completed and released on December 21, 1994. CDF 2.5 has been ported to the Macintosh running MacOS. A version of the library is available for Symantec THINK C and Macintosh Programmers Workshop (MPW) C and Fortran applications. In addition, create/write access for a CDF file with any supported encoding is now supported on all platforms. The previous versions supported only host or network encoding creation/writing of CDF files. In addition, modifications have been made to the way in which attributes are internally managed to compensate for the memory limitation on the Macintosh and IBM PCs, and additional error-checking capabilities have been added in an attempt to detect corrupted CDFs. For a complete list of changes, access the CDF2.5 CHANGES.doc or the Release Notes documents from the anonymous ftp accounts via ftp or the World Wide Web (WWW) (see below).

The CDF staff has recently developed a WWW CDF home page that is accessible from both the NSSDC and the GSFC home pages. The CDF home page provides informational services such as a CDF Tech Brief, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, and the status of the most recent operational version of the software. The home page also provides access to the CDF User Support office via an automated mailing system and to the anonymous ftp accounts from which the software and documentation can be copied. The CDF home page is available from

We have created a new mailing list for electronic discussions among programmers and users of CDF, both to encourage the CDF user community to share knowledge and experience and to reduce duplication of effort. To subscribe to this mailing list, please send an E-mail message to with the body of the message as "SUBSCRIBE cdf-users".

The CDF staff has created a WWW interface to IDL for generating graphic images on the fly from user selections of data and plot options. The URL for the demo is In the near future, we plan to create WWW-based data analysis tools and information systems that will allow anyone to view NSSDC's data graphically and in real-time.

Members of the CDF staff have been working with members of the Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) in a joint effort to develop a generic IDL/CDF-based scientific visualization tool called CDF Plot. SPDF staff is leading the effort and plans to release a beta version of the software early next year.

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Author:Miranda Beall
Curators: Erin Gardner and Miranda Beall
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
Last Revised: 21 Nov 1996 [EDG]