ISTP Metadata Guidelines

A data set using International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) guidelines, by definition forms a logically complete and self-sufficient whole (data and descriptions). The goal is to make the resulting 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 data file.


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 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 instrument. The files associated with each CDF data set are produced daily.

Creating Skeleton CDFs

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.

List and definition of attributes describing each variable.

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.

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

Use IDLmakecdf program

produces a CDF file using IDL with a Skeleton CDF file and user-supplied IDL code to read user data.

Use makeCDF program

produces a CDF file (using C) when given 3 input files: (1) data file, (2) translation file, (3) Skeleton CDF file.

Use generic CDF software

and write your own program. USE SKELETON CDF ABOVE.