The process of creating a CDF data set is similar to the process of building a house in several ways. Both require some planning before building commences; the better the plan, the better the final product. Both houses and CDFs have global features as well as detailed specific features that can dictate the design. For the ISTP/IACG CDF designer, the data itself is always crucial to the design of the CDF. The data and the guidelines together dictate the design.
When the planning stage is complete, the architect will have a blueprint of the house, the CDF designer will have a skeleton table.
Before the (CDF) building stage can begin, a designer must have a machine-readable data set ready to put into the form of a CDF data set. The building stage involves writing the Fortran or C code which is discussed in detail in the CDF User's Guide or C and Fortran Reference Manuals. This step can be skipped by using the program makeCDF.
When the data is put into the CDF (running the computer program), the CDF data set is complete and can be viewed as a list of numbers (e.g., using CDFlist), transferred to another location, manipulated, or visualized via plotting software (e.g., using CDAWeb).
Usually one CDF data set is created for each ISTP/IACG instrument. The files associated with each CDF data set are produced daily.