Genealogy: Which file formats to consider for digital migration strategy

Genealogy: Which file formats to consider for digital migration strategyBy Barry J. Ewell

The following table is intended to help you develop guidelines for preparing files for digital archiving. It is not intended to provide full preservation for formats listed under Low Confidence Level. Unfortunately it’s not possible to provide a single list of file formats that are appropriate for all use cases. The best formats to use for each of an object’s files will vary depending on how those files will be accessed and used, how they were captured or created, and their relationship to other files in the object.

For a more detailed description see: see Sustainability of Digital formats Planning for Library of Congress Collections.  The Digital Formats Web site provides information about digital content formats. The analyses and resources presented here will increase and be updated over time.

  • Media:  Raster Image
    • High Confidence Level:
      • TIFF (uncompressed)
      • JPEG2000 (lossless) (*.jp2)
      • PNG (*.png)
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • BMP (*.bmp)
      • JPEG/JFIF (*.jpg)
      • JPEG2000 (lossy) (*.jp2)
      • TIFF (compressed)
      • GIF (*.gif)
      • Digital Negative DNG (*.dng)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • MrSID (*.sid)
      • TIFF (in Planar format)
      • FlashPix (*.fpx)
      • PhotoShop (*.psd)
      • RAW
      • JPEG 2000 Part 2 (*.jpf, *.jpx)
      • All other raster image formats not listed here
  • Media:  Vector Graphics
    • High Confidence Level:
      • SVG (no Java script binding) (*.svg)
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • Computer Graphic Metafile (CGM, WebCGM) (*.cgm)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)
      • Macromedia Flash (*.swf)
      • All other vector image formats not listed here
  • Media:  Audio
    • High Confidence Level:
      • AIFF (PCM) (*.aif, *.aiff)
      • WAV (PCM) (*.wav)
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • Computer Graphic Metafile (CGM, WebCGM) (*.cgm)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)
      • Macromedia Flash (*.swf)
      • All other vector image formats not listed here
  • Media:  Video
    • High Confidence Level:
      • Motion JPEG 2000 (ISO/IEC 15444-4) (*.mj2)
      • AVI (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.avi)
      • QuickTime Movie (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.mov)
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • Motion JPEG 2000 (ISO/IEC 15444-4) (*.mj2)
      • AVI (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.avi)
      • QuickTime Movie (uncompressed, motion JPEG) (*.mov)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • AVI (others) (*.avi)
      • QuickTime Movie (others) (*.mov)
      • RealNetworks ‘Real Video’ (*.rv)
      • Windows Media Video (*.wmv)
      • All other video formats not listed here
  • Media:  Spreadsheet/Database
    • High Confidence Level:
      • Comma Separated Values (*.csv)
      •  Delimited Text (*.txt)
      • SQL DDL
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • DBF (*.dbf)
      • OpenOffice (*.sxc/*.ods)
      • OOXML (ISO/IEC DIS 29500) (*.xlsx)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • Excel (*.xls)
      • All other spreadsheet/database formats not listed here
  • Media:  Virtual Reality
    • High Confidence Level:
      • X3D (*.x3d)
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • VRML (*.wrl, *.vrml)
      •  U3D (Universal 3D file format)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • All other virtual reality formats not listed here
  • Media:  Presentation
    • High Confidence Level:
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • OpenOffice (*.sxi/*.odp)
      • OOXML (ISO/IEC DIS 29500) (*.pptx)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • PowerPoint (*.ppt)
      • All other presentation formats not listed here
  • Media:  Computer Programs
    • High Confidence Level:
    • Medium Confidence Level:
      • Computer program source code (*.c, *.c++, *.java, *.js, *.jsp, *.php, *.pl, etc.)
    • Low Confidence Level:
      • Compiled / Executable files (EXE, *.class, COM, DLL, BIN, DRV, OVL, SYS, PIF)

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