Stable file formats are highly unlikely to become obsolete, orphaned, or subject to abandonware, in which software or hardware is no longer maintained by its creator.
The table below outlines data types and stable, preferred file format examples.
|Data type||Preferred file format examples|
|Containers||TAR, GZIP, ZIP|
|Geospatial||SHP, DBF, GeoTIFF, NetCDF|
|Moving images||MOV, MPEG, AVI, MXF|
|Sounds||WAVE, AIFF, MP3, MXF|
|Statistics||ASCII, DTA, POR, SAS, SAV|
|Still images||TIFF, JPEG2000, PDF, PNG, GIF, BMP|
|Text||XML, PDF/A, HTML, ASCII, UTF-8|
Using stable file formats makes your data more replicable, more easily combined with other datasets, and has a much higher likelihood of being accessed in the future. Stable file formats have a long history of access and use. Some file formats even predate personal computers - data in the form of comma-separated values was supported as early as 1972 (as “list-directed input/output).
Stable file formats are those that are:
Resources and tools:
Questions to think about: