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(Revised) PSI Directive Theme: Formats

Format is considered as those specifications and means for representing information. Within the PSI reuse field it is usually considered those formats that are electronic and processable by machines.

Format often corresponds with the type of the document used to present the information —e.g., XML, HTML. Structure and storage of the information depends on the format, but also on the mechanism or protocol of data delivery and access. For instance, web services and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) may enable the information distribution in different final formats —SOAP, WFS, WMS, etc.

Publication of information in open formats —formats defined by clear specifications with free access for anyone— guarantees the universal accessibility and non-discrimination principle. Open formats often are those formats that can be accessed, and be processed through accessible, reachable tools.

Selection of formats determines the options the reusers have in order to access and process the exposed information, as well as the tools they can use to do it. Formats could be a barrier to access the information (complexity of the distribution, or the cost of the tools to process it). Because of this selection of appropriate formats for specific datasets is crucial to foster the PSI reuse.

The Best Practices below devlop these ideas further.

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