The GetData Project

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The GetData Project is the reference implementation of the Dirfile Standards, a filesystem-based, column-oriented database format for time-ordered binary data. The Dirfile database format is designed to provide a fast, simple format for storing and reading data.

Features of GetData and the Dirfile Standards include:

Other than the C Standard Library, GetData has no external dependencies. However, optional external libraries are used if found to provide support for various encoding schemes. In addition to the C API, bindings are provided for Fortran, C++, Python, and IDL.

GetData was originally written for the BOOMERanG and BLAST experiments as a data format suitable for use for both quick-look and data reduction. It is now used by many other cosmological and astrophysical experiments including ACT, Planck, Spider, as well as other projects. GetData began life as one of the native data formats supported by the kst plotting program, which was also written to provide quick-look capability to BOOMERanG and BLAST. Because it is used as a data access library by analysis software for many different projects, it is now a stand-alone library. Dirfiles in use for BLAST data analysis typically contain ~104 fields with ~108 samples each.

Get GetData

The complete source code for official releases of the GetData project are available from SourceForge.



The API is fully documented in Unix man pages provided with the distribution. Further documentation is available below:

Warranty and Redistribution

GetData is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation: either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

GetData is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.


GetData and the Dirfile Standards were originally written by C. B. Netterfield. They are both now maintained by D. V. Wiebe.

Questions and comments about GetData are best directed to the GetData mailing list (

Citing GetData

Users are not required, nor should they feel obliged, to make citations to GetData. However, for anyone who would like to do so regardless, GetData is included in the Astrophysics Source Code Library ( If you would like to cite the GetData library, ASCL is probably the best way to do it:

The corresponding SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System's record even provides a BibTeX entry for GetData. Again: this is provided purely for the convenience of GetData users.

© 2008–2016 D. V. Wiebe
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