A CDF data set using ISTP/IACG guidelines, by definition forms a logically complete and self-sufficient whole (data and descriptions). The goal is to make the resulting CDF data set correctly and independently usable by the science community and accessible through the CDAWeb Display and Retrieval system.


intended for first time users or anyone wanting only an overview of the process of creating a CDF data file.

Creating Skeleton CDFs

Global Attributes

Descriptions of the whole data set.


Defines data variables, support_data variables, and metadata variables including their dimensionality and what is needed for their correct display.

Variable Attributes

List and definition of attributes describing each variable.

ISTP/IACG Dictionary Keywords

intended as reference material. Valid values for one of the variable attributes (DICT_KEY) are given including class and subclass keywords, and the uses of a Data Dictionary are described.

Example Skeletons

intended as reference material. Example skeleton tables and skeleton CDFs are included.

Use SKTEditor , which is a JAVA downloadable program that aids the user with the creation of a Skeleton CDF.

Adding data to Skeleton CDFs - Three main options

1) Use IDLmakecdf program to produce a CDF file using IDL with a Skeleton CDF file and user-supplied IDL code to read user data.

2) Use makeCDF program to produce a CDF file (using C) when given 3 input files: (1) data file, (2) translation file, (3) Skeleton CDF file.

3) Use CDF software to write your own program.

* Return to Space Physics Use of CDF

*CDF home page

Authors and Curators

Tami Kovalick, tamara.j.kovalick@nasa.gov, (301)286-9422
Code 672, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA

Authorized by R.E. McGuire, Head, Space Physics Data Facility
(Code 670, NASA/GSFC), Robert.E.McGuire@gsfc.nasa.gov, (301)286-7794
Last Updated: December 2008