Volume 15, Numbers 1&2 June 1999

By Donald Sawyer and Joseph King

Formats Evolution Process Underway

The Formats Evolution Process ( FEP ), outlined in the previous newsletter and hosted by NOST, is now well underway and is ready for your involvement. The process is being guided by a Formats Evolution Process Committee ( FEPC ). The FEPC is a group of concerned individuals who represent format developers, researchers, project data managers, archive managers, and commercial tool vendors.

A central feature of this process is the establishment of a dialogue with the science community to determine what has been working and what is needed to improve the community's ability to use information more cost-effectively. We expect consensus positions to emerge from this process that will impact the proliferation of formats in some communities and the evolution of formats for all communities. You have an opportunity to join this process and express your views. Working together, we can ensure that the formats we find most useful will survive and evolve.

You can participate in this process over the WWW at The dialogue is organized into discussion forums focussed on various types of users, format developers, and tool developers. An easy to use WWW form interface allows you to express your opinions concerning the various formats you have used and the functionalities you wish formats and their supporting software had. Completed forms are posted on the WWW for others to read and comment on. Comments will also be organized and posted so others can follow the discussions. There is also a forum on the potential impacts of new standards and technologies on the formats. Participants are encouraged to submit white papers on relevant topics or provide pointers to such white papers.

We expect the web site to evolve into a NASA-wide resource for information on formats and support services. Once sufficient material has been submitted, we plan to convene a meeting of interested contributers to draft consensus documents guiding future data format evolution. If you use, store, provide, or manipulate data, you should begin participating in this dialogue now.

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Editor:Miranda Beall
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Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
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