40. évfolyam, 1994. 1. szám


On exchange formats. Foundations and addenda to Mirna Willer: Machine readable cataloguing. The necessity for standardization)


A format is a set of rules enabling the computer to recognize data for input, processing, storage and display. Characteristics of input, processing (or internal), display and finally of exchange formats are given. The elements of the formats i.e. their structure (syntax), content (semantics) are described and the character set as additional elements is mentioned. Due to the different internal formats and the different application oriented softwares used by information systems conversion is required to exchange information between the systems. The exchange format makes the communication easier, saving a lot of conversion efforts and has also a certain standardizing effect on the establishment of databases and their internal formats. In 1978 the issue of the need of a single international exchange format was raised at the Taormina Symposium. This format has become the CCF {Common Communication Format). Its establishment was funded by Unesco and it was published as a document of the General Information Programme of Unesco. The application of CCF was hindered by various factors, among others by a certain rivalry between UNIMARC, and CCF. UNIMARC gained some distribution as exchange format of national bibliographic agencies. CCF proved to be successful in developing countries and international organizations also as a basis for local formats. In 1992 the tension was eased by the UNIMARC/CCF workshop (Florence). However national bibliographic agencies and database distributors still use their own formats {national MARC formats and various distribution formats) for exchange. CCF/B (for bibliographic information) and CCF/F (for factual information) appeared as the result of further development. In Hungary the HUNMARC format, established by the National Széchényi Library is about to be published. ISO/2709~has its Hungarian version, MSZ 193/11983, but no unanimous approach has been developed yet as far as the content (semantics) of the format is concerned. There is a need for a complete format standard, whereas the standardization of a limited number of variants (CCF, UNIMARC, HUNMARC) seems to be rather possible. (pp. 35-41)

Országos Széchényi Könyvtár