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What is Common Data Format (CDF)?

  • Self-describing data format for the storage of scalar and multidimensional data in a platform- and discipline-independent way
  • Scientific data management package (CDF Library) allows application developers to manage these data arrays
  • Transparent access to data and meta-data through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • Built-in support for data compression (gZip, RLE, Huffman) and automatic data uncompression, and checksum
  • Large file support (> 2G-bytes)
  • CDF library includes a suite of tools that allow users to manipulate CDF files
  • Provide read/write interfaces for C, FORTRAN, Java, Perl, C#/Visual Basic, IDL, MATLAB (and user-supplied software, e.g., Python, Sybase, mySQL)
  • More in Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

[Download the latest released version (V3.8.0)]

Please email cdfsupport with any CDF-related questions (both technical and policy-related).

An external CDF visualization tool: Autoplot interactive browser


  • NOTE:
    • We are considering turning off our Solaris SPARC server and our Open VMS server is currently offline, both used for CDF development. Who is still depending on our continued support for these platforms? Please let us know. Thanks.
    • As Mac has stopped supporting 32-bit applications, we are also considering to stop building 32-bit in our future releases. Please let us know if this would cause a problem.
  • June 1, 2020CDF logo: CDF version V3.8.0 is released. Read Changes made in this and previous releases. A note for Windows users: there are eight packaged versions of binary builds, for Windows 32 bit and 64 bit as appropriate, each compiled with MS Visual Studio 2015 (preferred) and the older MS Visual Studio 2008, and each packaged with the simple WinZip and the older InstallMate installer (which sometimes is reported of malware by certain antivirus scanning software). We recommend the versions made with the MS Visual Studio 2015 compiler, as the use of the older compiler will be dropped in future releases. Please read AAREADME for information.
  • For the TT2000 data type for time, read our requirements analysis and development approach for more details.
  • The latest leap second table can be found here.
  • IDL: Patch based on the latest CDF V3.8.0 version IDL Patch.
  • MATLAB: CDF distributed modules based on the latest CDF V3.8.0 version MATLAB Patch
  • C#/Visual Basic C#/VB-CDF for Windows based on the latest CDF V3.8.0.
  • A suite of user-provided software can interact with CDF. Please check them out here.
  • Send CDFsupport email: cdfsupport
  • CDF's Java Network Launching Protocol latest development