File Formats Assessments

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FileFormatsMainGrey.jpg File formats are a means of structuring information in a sensible way for storage, retrieval and use. There are a wealth of different formats supporting a range of data types, from specific instances to container formats able to store different types of data.

As discussed in their iPRES paper “Sustainability Assessments at the British Library: Formats, Frameworks and Findings”, the Digital Preservation Team at the British Library has undertaken file format assessments to capture knowledge about the gaps in current best practice, understanding and capability in working with specific file formats. The focus of each assessment is on capturing evidence-based preservation risks and the implications of institutional obsolescence which lead to problems maintaining the content over time.

The British Library’s assessments are being made available via this DPC wiki page in order to share their findings and facilitate engagement with the broader preservation community.

Feedback is always welcome. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email: DPT at the British Library

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The British Library, The Library of Congress, Harvard Library, NARA and the Digital Preservation Coalition are beginning a new collaboration to coordinate and make available their file format assessments. This will grow the pool of assessments available, while avoiding duplication, increasing the quality, and minimising the effort of maintenance. As a first stage, these organisations are coordinating their next assessment work here.

Preservation Risk Assessments by Format Type

Icon-TIFF.png Tagged Image File Format

A widely-supported raster format for images.

WhiteBorder100.jpg Icon-JP2.png JPEG 2000

A compression standard and coding system for images, created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group.

Icon-PDF.png Portable Document Format

A file format optimised for the consistent display of text and embedded images, regardless of platform.

WhiteBorder100.jpg Icon-EPUB.png EPUB

An open standard for electronic books (eBooks) and other content types published by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).

WhiteBorder100.jpg Icon-JATS.png Journal Article Tag Suite

An XML-based mark-up standard for e-Journal content, based on the earlier NLM Archiving and Interchange DTD.

WhiteBorder100.jpg Icon-ODT.png
Open Document Text

A format for editable textual documents that is part of the ISO 26300 OpenDocument Format family that is maintained by OASIS. Coming sooooooooooooooon!

Icon-NTF.png National Transfer Format

A vector format standard (BS 7567) developed in the 1980s for the transfer of geospatial information, now mostly obsolete.

WhiteBorder100.jpg Icon-GML comingsoon.png Geography Markup Language

Coming soon!

Icon-WAV.png Waveform Audio File Format

An audio file format standard recommended by several professional bodies and memory institutions for the long-term preservation of audio files.

Icon-XML.png Extensible Markup Language

A generic markup language for the encoding of text and data; specification maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Assessment Criteria

See the format assessment factors covered in each assessment.