HUDDL for description and archive of hydrographic binary data

TitleHUDDL for description and archive of hydrographic binary data
Publication TypeConference Abstract
AuthorsMasetti, Giuseppe, and Calder, Brian R.
Conference NameCanadian Hydrographic Conference 2014
Conference Dates15-17 April 2014
Conference LocationSt. John's, NL, Canada
Keywordsbinary data formats, code generator, XML catalog, XML schemas

Many of the attempts to introduce a universal hydrographic binary data format have failed or have been only partially successful. In essence, this is because such formats either have to simplify the data to such an extent that they only support the lowest common subset of all the formats covered, or they attempt to be a superset of all formats and quickly become cumbersome. Neither choice works well in practice. This paper presents a different approach: a standardized description of (past, present and future) data formats using the Extensible Markup Language (XML). That is, XML is used to provide a structural and physical description of a data format, rather than the content of a particular file.

Done correctly, this opens the possibility of automatically generating both multi-language data parsers and documentation for format specification based on their XML descriptions, as well as providing easy version control of them. This solution provides also a powerful approach for archiving data together with their structural description, so that binary data will be easy to access in the future. Intending to provide a relatively low-effort solution to catalogue the wide range of existing formats, we suggest the creation of a catalogue of format descriptions, each of them capturing the logical and physical specifications for a given data format (with its subsequent upgrades).

A C/C++ parser code generator is used as an example prototype of one of the possible advantages of the adoption of such a hydrographic data format catalogue.