The Huddl Project
The Huddl (Hydrographic Universal Data Description Language) project provides a readily available and easy-to-adopt solution for anyone that needs to access and/or catalog hydrographic data. Huddl is a descriptive XML-based language based on the key idea of creating a description of how an existing data format is internally organized. The language also provides a mechanism to keep track of new format releases, and related change-points, through incremental updates.
Having the format description in a computer-readable document provides many advantages. For example, this allows Huddler, a compiler, to automatically create drivers for data access and manipulation. Huddler is already able to output code in C, C++ and Python, and is extensible to other popular languages. Huddl also provides a solution for archiving data along with their structural description, as well as for cataloguing existing format specifications and their version control.
Many types of applications could benefit from the Huddl approach: data explorers, conversion tools, metadata archives, etc. Huddl provides a solution for both software and hardware manufacturers to providing a strong and universal mechanism for version control of hydrographic data formats. Developers will have an abstraction tool for development of binary data readers and converters. In addition, the creation of a Huddl Format Description repository is a solution for propagating the publication of a format update to all interested parties (using popular electronic mechanisms such as tweets, an RSS, or a mailing list).
Huddl is intended to be an open, community-led initiative to simplify the issues involved in hydrographic data access. A website has been made available to the public to support such a development: https://huddl.ccom.unh.edu/.