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The makeCDF Tool

MakeCDF is a tool for reading in flat data sets, in both binary and textual form, and generating a CDF dataset from that data. The CDF files produced by this tool comply with the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) and Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG) Guidelines.

MakeCDF is written in standard ANSI-C. Previous versions were tested on VAX/VMS, Sun/Unix, and IBM PC/DOS platforms. The present version has been tested on VAX/VMS, Solaris and Digital UNIX. It is distributed freely by the NASA/GSFC/Space Physics Data Facility. It contains no proprietary software.

 MakeCDF is still under development. Planned enhancements include increased validation of user input, performance optimization, expanded on-line help, and additional Epoch calculation algorithms. Any additional functional enhancements requested by our user community will also be added, as time and resources permit.

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*Look at On-line Help

Obtaining the software

It is recommended that you compile the source code on your system. The makefile to compile and link the source code has been included in the distribution.

* MakeCDF Source Code and MakeFile
* Running the makeCDF engine

MakeCDF On-line Help

[Graphic depicting steps to create a CDF with the makeCDF engine]

I want to put my data into CDF! Where do I start?

Use the program makeCDF. Three input files are required; one is your data file. Follow the steps below to create the other 2 files: skeleton CDF and translation file.
  When you have all three files, then run the makeCDF engine.

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Supported time formats

makeCDF can read any of the time formats below.

makeCDF will then compute the ISTP/IACG standard CDF 'Epoch' time from the input format. (Presently, makeCDF can only convert one time tag per input file.) CDF 'Epoch' is listed as, e.g., 01-Jan-1997 10:20:00.000, but stored as a Real*8 scalar variable for ease of manipulation across day, month, and year boundary.

Next Step: see if makeCDF can read your data format.

*Return to On-line Help
*Jump to Obtaining the software
*Run CDF Translation Service (converts most file formats to CDF and visa versa)

Supported data formats

makeCDF can read any of the data formats below.


Next Step: look at Example Input Data File formats with corresponding translation files.

*Return to On-line Help
*Jump to Obtaining the software
*Run CDF Translation Service (converts most file formats to CDF and visa versa)

On-line help for the makeCDF engine

makeCDF is a flat data file to CDF file TRANSLATOR

How is the makeCDF engine run?

Use the command:

makecdf    input_file    translation_file    input_CDF    output_CDF

where the command symbol


has been previously defined in your system.

Potential Problems/Warning Messages

ERROR messages will always be displayed.
WARNING messages are of two types: 'Progress' and 'Debug'. These messages are enabled or suppressed by setting the runtime parameters 'progress' and/or 'debug' to 'ON' or 'OFF' in the translation file.

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* Space Physics Use of CDF

* SPDF Home Page 
Author & Curator:

Tami Kovalick,, (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),, (301)286-7794
Last Updated: December 2008 TJK