Self-defining Text Archive and Retrieval

The Self-Defining Text Archive and Retrieval (STAR) File, or simply the STAR File, is a text-based file format for storing structured data. It was proposed in 1991 by Sydney R. Hall. The format became widely used in molecular-structure sciences, although it is not specific to this field—it was designed as a universal approach to electronic data exchange and archiving.

Self-defining Text Archive and Retrieval
Developed bySydney R. Hall
Initial release1991
Extended toCrystallographic Information File, Dictionary Definition Language

One characteristic feature of the STAR File format is that data names (keys in key–value pairs) start with the underscore. They are separated from data values only by white space, for example:

_format "STAR File"
_first_published 1991

The format was designed to provide a concise syntax for tabular data. The construct for this is called loop. Loops start with the loop_ keyword followed by names corresponding to columns and then by values.

O1 C8 1.301(3)
O1 Na1 2.161(2)
O2 C36 1.425(4)
O2 C39 1.425(4)
O2 Na1 2.514(3)
O3 C31 1.421(4)
# ...

Using a "Dictionary Definition Language" file, itself a STAR File, STAR sub-formats can be defined for particular use cases. One notable STAR-based[1] format is the Crystallographic Information File format.

The "STAR FILE" name is a registered trade mark of the International Union of Crystallography .[2]

See alsoEdit

  • Hall, Sydney R. (1991). "The STAR file: a new format for electronic data transfer and archiving". J. Chem. Inf. Comput. Sci. 31 (2): 326–333. doi:10.1021/ci00002a020.
  • Hall, Sydney R.; Spadaccini, Nick (1994). "The STAR File: detailed specifications". J. Chem. Inf. Comput. Sci. 34 (3): 505–508. doi:10.1021/ci00019a005.
  • Spadaccini, Nick; Hall, Sydney R. (2012). "Extensions to the STAR File Syntax". J. Chem. Inf. Model. 52 (8): 1901–1906. doi:10.1021/ci300074v. PMID 22725659.