Container Format Alernatives

The goals include a provision for a Container file format that is capable of storing various digital files in native formats.

Important criteria for the container format include:

  1. Cross-platform and cross-codebase. BetterGEDCOM (BG) is a data exchange format, and needs to support a wide audience
  2. Encapsulates files in virtually any format, including formats yet to be invented
  3. Support cataloging files in the container so that contents can be referenced easily and references should survive export/import.
  4. Allow control over encoding (e.g., base64), compression (none or choice of compression algorithms), and encryption
  5. Support a hierarchical directory-like structure for included files
  6. Provide indirection so that convenient references to content can be used. Indirect references must survive import/export and persist for archiving
  7. Need not provide access-control to individual elements (if you can read the container, you can read each element. If you can write the container you can write each element).
  8. Provides a single entity that can be relied upon to be internally consistent and complete, without stale pointers and broken references (external references can't be guaranteed).
  9. Should be free of burdensome licensing and royalty conditions, ideally open sourced.

Pre-existing candidates for BetterGEDCOM's container technology:

What other candidates should be considered for the Container format?

Is OpenDocument a solid choice by virtue of its widespread acceptance and various open source implementations that use it (e.g.

Multimedia File Issues


gthorud 2010-11-15T15:07:58-08:00
Is there a reason why ZIP is not listed as an alternative? I understand that ZIP is used by the other formats, but I am talking about using only some version of ZIP.
greglamberson 2010-11-15T19:44:59-08:00
This is a wiki.

If ZIP needs to be added, add it.
gthorud 2010-11-16T05:19:46-08:00

I am asking a question. If there is no answer to that question, I may do as you suggest since I have so far not seen any arguments against zip. But there is no use in putting it on the page if someone comes along and removes it after a few hours. That is why I have asked this question?
brianjd 2010-11-21T22:10:05-08:00
I see no problem with zip as a container. I'm not familiar with the model used by ODF. I would be very leary of the model used by Microsoft. It is likely to be proprietary and perhaps encumbered by patents.

Personally, I think the ODF format would be a good starting point. It is widely supported, and is open.
I'm not sure about compression, but multimedia is likely to be compressed already.
romjerome 2010-11-22T00:40:18-08:00
ODF file format is gzip'd (.gz, application/x-gzip)
.gramps is also a gzipped file format.
romjerome 2010-11-22T00:52:13-08:00
Sorry, ODF seems to use zip...
Gramps XML uses gzip (.gz, application/x-gzip)