Data is only as good as the format it is saved in. The format of a file determines which programs can be used to access it.
Open vs Proprietary
Files in OPEN format (recommended)
- Can be opened by anyone using different types of open-source, free or licensed software.
- Are less prone to become obsolete, because a variety of software should be able to open them.
- Have a free format specification (i.e. no patent restrictions).
- List of open formats.
Files in PROPRIETARY format (non-preferred)
- Can only be opened using paid-licence software.
- Tend to be replaced by new versions or new formats, limiting their future reuse.
- Have an either patented or trade-secret specification.
- List of proprietary formats.
Recommended file formats
Considerations before choosing a file format
- The format of raw and processed data files could depend on the instrument or the software that generates the data.
- Some data repositories could require specific file formats. In this case, information about the accepted formats can be found on the repository’s webpage.
- It is good practice to use open or recommended formats when possible.
Recommended file formats can be found via
Is my file format open?
|Proteomics||Mass spectroscopy||mzXML or mzML||yes|
Sources and further reading
- File formats. Ghent University https://www.ugent.be/en/research/datamanagement/during-research/collection.htm#Fileformats.