NMR Exchange Format

CCPN at the forefront

CCPN has been at the forefront of developing and implementing the new NMR Exchange Format.

Traditionally, the NMR field has used a large variety of program-specific file formats. This has made it difficult for software packages to inter-operate and has complicated data-archiving and retrieval. To address these challenges, the developers of a large number of NMR software packages have united to develop a single, universal file format, the NMR Exchange Format, “NEF”, and have committed to make their software NEF compatible (Gutmanas et al. 2015).

The main advantage of NEF is that it allows the most common types of NMR data, such as chemical shifts, peak lists and restraint lists to be stored in a single file. In addition, NEF files can be extended to contain additional program-specific information. It also ensures proper handling of stereospecific and non-stereospecific assignments so that no information is lost.

NEF uses the STAR file format. STAR files have a defined structure and only certain terms are allowed. This makes it easy to be use as an archival format for many types of biological data. It is also more humanly readable than some other format types (e.g. XML). Examples include NMR-STAR, used by the Biological Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Data Bank (BMRB) and mmCIF which is now the only accepted format for molecular coordinate deposition with the Protein Data Bank (PDB).

See our NEF manual page for an overview of the NEF format specification.