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Section 6: Archiving Virtual Reality Projects#

6.5 Depositing virtual reality with the Arts & Humanities Data Service #

The Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) archives, disseminates and catalogues high-quality digital resources of long-term interest to the Arts and Humanities disciplines. Its geographical remit is to provide digital archiving facilities for all areas of the world in which UK academics have research interests. The scope of the AHDS collections is thus international.

The AHDS acknowledges the considerable benefit to both depositors and users of an effective and rigorous process of peer review of materials proposed for accessioning. In order to assist the AHDS to evaluate datasets and maintain the rigorous standards necessary for the effective development of a quality resource base, Collections Evaluation Working Parties have been set up by each of the AHDS service providers.

Data resources that are offered for deposit to the AHDS will be evaluated to:

  • Assess their intellectual content and the level of potential interest in their reuse
  • Evaluate how (even whether) they may viably be managed, preserved, and distributed to potential secondary users
  • Determine the presence or absence of another suitable archival home.

Whereas the first form of evaluation involves assessment of the content of a data resource, the second focuses more on data structure and format, and on the nature and completeness of any documentation supplied. The third evaluation criterion is intended to prevent duplication of digital archiving efforts and to preserve the integrity of existing digital archives. Such evaluation is essential to determine how best to manage a digital resource for the purpose of preservation and secondary reuse, and also to determine what costs may be involved in accessioning and migrating the digital resource.

6.5.1 Deposit formats

In the last few years many data formats have appeared that are intended to make data exchange and migration easier. Some of these formats are proprietary (i.e. they are marketed by a single company) but many are open standards that are independent of the software that is used. In general, open data formats are preferred for digital preservation. Unfortunately, software manufacturers use open file formats but occasionally change them slightly so as to be less than 100% compatible with other software manufacturers. It is best to enquire with a digital archiving body in the planning stages of any project to check if there are any concerns with the anticipated file formats.

The format in which data will be deposited depends on the type of information that it contains. The file formats outlined in Table 2 are recommended for delivery, long-term preservation and for Internet dissemination. 'Delivery' formats pertain to the file types that will be accepted by the AHDS as a component of a deposit. Where necessary, these delivery file formats will be migrated into a 'Preservation' format for long-term storage and may also be converted to a 'Dissemination' format for delivery over the Internet. Dissemination formats may also include widely used proprietary formats such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat files for texts and jpeg for images, which may have no long-term preservation potential.

Table 2: AHDS delivery, preservation and dissemination file formats
Data typeDelivery formatsPreservation formatsDissemination formats
Virtual RealityQTVR, VRML, X3DVRML, X3DQTVR, VRML
CADDXF, DWG plus some native file formatsDXF, DWGDXF, DWG, DWF
GISArcInfo, ArcView, DXF, DWG, MIF/MID, NTFF, SDTF, MOSS, VDFArcInfo, DXF, DWGArcInfo, DXF, DWG
ImagesUncompressed TIFF, GeoTIFF, BMP, PNG, JPG, GIFF, PCX, SVG Uncompressed TIFF, SVGJPG, GIF, PNG
Moving imagesMPEG, Quicktime, Real Video, AVIMPEG, SMILMPEG, Quicktime, Real Video
SoundMP3, MPEG, QuicktimeMPEG, Ogg VorbisMP3, MPEG, Ogg Vorbis
MultimediaSMIL, Macro Media Director, Assymetric Toolbook. All applications must be accompanied by full documentation and copies of native files, whether digital image, text, video, sound or database.SMILSMIL, Native image, video, sound and delimited ASCII for database files.
TextsASCII text, RTF, HTML, PDF, Postscript, LaTeX, ODA, SGML, TeX, Word*, WordPerfect*, XMLASCII text, HTML, XMLASCII text, HTML, PDF, SGML, Word, XML
DatabasesASCII delimited text, MS Access, Oracle, Paradox, DBFASCII delimited text, XMLASCII delimited text, XML
SpreadsheetsASCII delimited text, MS Excel, Lotus 123, Quattro ProASCII delimited text, XMLASCII delimited text, XML
GeophysicsContours, Geoplot, plain textAGF, plain textAGF, plain text

Depositors are recommended to contact the AHDS centre for their discipline to confirm the file formats and versions of software packages which are currently accepted.

6.5.2 Contacting the AHDS

The Arts and Humanities Data Service has five centres devoted to archaeology, the visual arts, the performing arts, history and literature, languages and linguistics. Researchers who wish to discuss depositing virtual reality should contact the centre appropriate to their subject discipline:


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