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IUCr 1996 Report - Committee for the Maintenance of the Crystallographic Information File Standards (COMCIFS)

Many years of COMCIFS' work came to fruition during the present year with the approval of three major dictionaries, the first since the approval of the original core dictionary by the Executive Committee in 1991. On 12 November 1996, approval was given to an extended version of the core dictionary that includes additions and clarifications resulting from experience with Acta Cryst. Section C. Considering the revolutionary character of the changes in production of Acta Cryst Section C in which CIF played a central role, the original version of the core dictionary has performed well, but a few infelicities in the original dictionary required correction and some extra items were added, some required as a result of changes in the techniques of structure determination.

Two major new dictionaries have also been approved, the macromolecular dictionary was approved on 8 June 1997 and the powder dictionary on 9 July 1997. Both of these have been under construction for several years and are the result of a great deal of dedicated work by a number of people, particularly Paula Fitzgerald and her team for the macromolecular dictionary and Brian Toby for the powder diffraction dictionary. It is our understanding that these dictionaries, in addition to extending the range of papers that can be submitted to Acta Cryst. Sections C and D, will be adopted as archival standards by the Protein Data Bank, the Nucleic Acid Data Bank and the Powder Data File.

There are other dictionaries in preparation dealing with modulated structures, symmetry and diffuse scattering, and discussions are under way with a group planning a standard for reporting measurements from image plates. For technical reasons, the latter group will probably not adopt the STAR format on which CIF is based, but they are anxious to ensure as much compatibility with CIF as possible.

In the future, COMCIFS will spend more time approving incremental changes to the three major existing dictionaries as they are brought into use by journals and databases. For this reason, COMCIFS is reviewing its current structure and mode of operation.

The membership of this Committee is I. D. Brown (Canada; Chairman) P. R. Edgington (UK), P. M. D. Fitzgerald (USA), S. R. Hall (Australia), G. Madariaga (Spain), M. Spackman (Australia), B. H. Toby (USA) and the IUCr R&D Officer.

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Updated 14th February 1997

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