Frequently Asked Questions

Why XML?

XML is being used increasingly as a data format for scientific and technical projects because: Examples of applications now using an XML based data format are: Chemical Markup Language, MathML and the BioInformatic Sequence ML for genetic sequences.

Isn't this similar to HTO?

Yes. The Hierarchical Tagged Objects specification by Doug Dotson and other authors was well ahead of its time but only a few cave survey software writers provided support for it.

The UISIC also has an XML Working Group

The International Union of Speleology's Informatics Commission formed an XML working group in January 2001 to develop a cave survey XML (see contacts page). My own cave survey XML was started in late 1999 and is being developed to support ideas that I wish to implement in some cave mapping software. I am also a member of this UISIC group and so although the two cave survey XMLs will differ in some ways many concepts and ideas developed in one will flow into the other.

How does CaveScript relate to Survex?

Survex, written by some UK cavers, is a free open-source cave survey tool. What's particularly nice about Survex is that the data format is ASCII, it's simple to read and understand, has a powerful heirarchical file system for station naming and it's fast.

I had been using Survex for some years and used the cavern engine to reduce the survey data for my proof-of-concept program to bend cave walls around survey legs. When I started to develop CaveScript seriously I needed a data format and started to create something like the Survex format. However it quickly became apparent that I needed something more and so started to look around. Thats when I noticed XML on the horizon.

CaveScript is still just a draft of a new language for cave survey data. Its goal is to provide a data format to store information about a cave and its map and CaveScript won't be a data reduction engine. Survex is excellent for that and so the need to have scripts so that I can convert my XML data to Survex.