Gwyddion – Free SPM (AFM, SNOM/NSOM, STM, MFM, …) data analysis software

Call for help with data formats

Gwyddion supports a number of microscopy and other raster data file formats. But there are many more data formats used in the field of Scanning Probe Microsopy and new are constantly being created.

While a determined individual can import almost anything with the Rawfile module, we would like to support more data formats in a more pleasant way. Please help us by sending us information about them, even if you do not have full specifications for the format. How much effort it requires (from both us and you) to add support for a specific data format that depends, beside the format complexity, on what information about the format is available and how it can be used:

Full specifications, public/Open Source
Fragmentary specifications, public/Open Source
Do not know, public/Open Source
Full specifications, closed source
Fragmentary specifications, closed source

Full specifications, public/Open Source

If you have specifications of a currently unsupported data format used in microscopy, or are even creator of such a format, and either can (and are willing to) legally publish it openly or are allowed to base a Free Software/Open Source implelemtation on it, then please contact us.

In this case we can support it fully, fast, and direcly as a Gwyddion module, thus allowing the best integration while retaining software freedom. Or, possibly even better, you can implement yourself with our help.

Even if full specifications are available and/or you implement the new import module yourself please send us some sample data file(s) for reference and verification that the import still works if something changes.

Fragmentary specifications, public/Open Source

If you know how to read a currently unsupported format, albeit not with all details or not very reliably, or have a reason to expect it is relatively easy to reverse-engineer, please contact us too.

We will need sample data files, accompanied with some information what they should look like when read correctly, to test the implementation. As reverse-engineering of data formats for the sake of compatbility is legal in the civilized world, we can implement the data format directly as a Gwyddion module in this case too.

Do not know, public/Open Source

You have the data files, would like Gwyddion to open them, but know nothing particular about their format and have no idea how hard it may be to implement the support. Well, we can only find out that if we try it. So most of the previous section applies here too, only it may eventually turn out to be too hard here or require more effort on your side (e.g. to find or create sets of files with different properties).

Full specifications, closed source

If you are a measuring equipment manufacturer who is the proprietor of format specifications, but want neither to publish them nor allow any Open Source implementation, Gwyddion can still support your format.

However, this has some serious drawbacks. The format has to be implemented in a plug-in distributed as an opaque executable that users have to download separately. This means worse integration, certain limitations of what kinds of data can be imported and availability for only a subset of the platforms Gwyddion runs on. For us there is the great obstacle of losing the possibility to do any open source implementation at all once we have had access to the proprietary full specifications. We thus encourage you to reconsider the possibility of an open implementation, maybe without ‘disclosing too much’. In most cases, Gwyddion import modules only need to be able to locate the data in the file, convert the raw values to physical and read basic information such as image dimensions.

Fragmentary specifications, closed source

Frankly speaking, this is not a posibility. If we are to reverse-engineer the format anyway, there is little incentive to become legally ‘tainted’ with some non-disclosure agreement in addition.

So this reduces to the Do not know, Open Source case if anyone can send us sample data files.

1.9 (yeti, 2014-08-04 14:16:12)
© David Nečas and Petr Klapetek

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