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vcif is a small program developed by the IUCr Chester offices and used to validate the syntax of CIF data and dictionary files. It is used as part of the Acta Crystallographica checkcif procedure.


The software (written in C) is available in two forms:

Manual page for vcif

Vcif reads a file in CIF(5) format, and writes to standard output any syntax errors it finds. Unlike a strict CIF parser, which will exit on encountering the first syntax error in a file, vcif attempts to recover and report further errors. However, certain errors (such as unterminated text fields) can confuse the program. If file-name is "-", vcif will read from standard input.


-l nn
Maximum line length. Report lines exceeding nn characters in length (the default is the CIF standard value of 80).
-w nn
Maximum length of datanames or data_ block headers. Report any exceeding nn characters in length (the default is the implied CIF standard value of 74).
Quiet. Report no errors. The return value of the program is a count of the number of errors encountered.
Verbose. Give a more complete account of each error on its first occurrence. This mode will only report the first 20 errors, unless this is over-ridden by the -e option.
Do not flag extra STAR(5) file syntax features, such as global_ and save_ frames, as errors. Useful for checking the syntax of CIF dictionary files, which have these additional features.
-e nn
Number of errors to report. The default is 20 in verbose mode, and unlimited otherwise.
Print help information and exit.
Print version information and exit.
-D debug-file-name
Write (copious) debugging output to the named file.

Updated 6 August 1998

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