Data Formats and Data Unification
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Data formatting is an important component of data Management technologies, which provides the structural basis for data sets ‘ creation as well as for software interfaces between data sets and procedures of data processing, analysis, visualization and dissemination. Data formatting is of particular importance for data exchange between subject - oriented technologies, between data centres, between a data centre and users. For a long time the Group of Experts on Technical Aspects of Data Exchange (IODE GETADE) has been responsible for providing the standardization of ocean data exchange. These activities resulted in development of the General Format (GF3) formatting system and, the GF3 subsets for various disciplines (oceanography, currents, geology geophysics) related to marine environment. Subsequently GF-3 was upgraded to meet modern technical requirements and is offered for the International Oceanographic Data Exchange (IODE) as the GETADE format. At the same time many centres and organizations developed data formats for their own needs. In 1992 GETADE investigated formats, which in that time were in use. But recent years radical changes took place in the field of information technologies. Therefore, examination of the status, use, and utility of currently existing formats should play a positive role for making the decisions concerning the further activity in the field of data formatting and development of the IODE End to End Data Management (IODE E2EDM) system. To prepare the current presentation the analysis of 21 data formats (Annex 1) used for data management both in the international projects and at a national level was carried out. When analyzing the formats much attention was given to consideration of the following characteristics: - data type described by the format; - composition and content of metadata described by the format; - codes used by the format; - peculiarities of data structuring.