XML description of hydrographic binary data formats

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

While it is commonly accepted that the Extensible Markup Language (XML) is inappropriate for storing large geographic data sets, for example a hydrographic survey, it is a de facto standard for representing metadata.

This paper explores using XML metadata technology as a standardized description of binary data formats in (past, present and future) use in the hydrographic field. That is, an XML document is used to give a structural description of the contents of a file format, rather than the content of a particular file. Done correctly, this opens the possibility of automatically generating the code to read/write a file format from the XML description (in any of a number of different languages), as well as automatically generating documentation on the content of the file format. The structure of XML also provides easy version control of file formats along with readily implemented automatic announcements (via RSS, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) of changes in data formats that might affect software libraries. With the intent of providing a relatively low-effort solution to catalogue the wide range of existing hydrographic data formats, we suggest the creation of a catalogue of XML Schemas, each of them containing description for a given data format (with its subsequent upgrades) that can be used as a set of instructions for an application on how to manipulate data collected in a specific format/version.

We demonstrate the principles via an XML schema for a particular file format, with a C++ code generator back-end to automatically generate a library to read/write the format, highlighting the possible advantages of the adoption of such a hydrographic data format catalogue.