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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >

Policies + Guidelines: T-Space: U of T Libraries

Policies > Format Support

Format Support

We wish to provide support for as many file formats as possible. Over time, items stored in T-Space will be preserved as is, using a combination of time-honored techniques for data management and best practices for digital preservation. As for specific formats, however, the proprietary nature of many file types makes it impossible to make guarantees. Put simply, our policy for file formats is:

  • Everything put in T-Space will be retrievable.
  • We will recognize as many files' formats as possible.
  • We will support as many known file formats as possible.

When a file is uploaded to T-Space, we assign it one of the following categories:

  • supported: we fully support the format
  • known: we can recognize the format, but cannot guarantee full support
  • unsupported: we cannot recognize a format; these will be listed as "application/octet-stream", aka Unknown

By "support", we mean "make usable in the future, using whatever combination of techniques (such as migration, emulation, etc.) is appropriate given the context of need". For supported formats, we might choose to bulk-transform files from a current format version to a future one, for instance. But we can't predict which services will be necessary down the road, so we'll continually monitor formats and techniques to ensure we can accomodate needs as they arise.

In the meantime, we can choose to "support" a format if we can gather enough documentation to capture how the format works. In particular, we collect file specifications, descriptions, and code samples, and make those available in the T-Space Format Reference Collection below. Unfortunately, this means that proprietary formats for which these materials are not publicly available cannot be supported in T-Space. We will still preserve these files, and in cases where those formats are native to tools supported by UofT Information Systems, we will provide you with guidance on converting your files into formats we do support. It is also likely that for extremely popular but proprietary formats (such as Microsoft .doc, .xls, and .ppt), we will be able to help make files in those formats more useful in the future simply because their prevalence makes it likely tools will be available. Even so, we cannot guarantee this level of service without also having more information about the formats, so we will still list these formats as "known", not "supported".

What to do if your format isn't recognized

We understand that there are always more formats to consider, and we would appreciate your help in identifying and studying the suitability of support for formats you care about. If we can't identify a format, T-Space will record it as "unknown", aka "application/octet-stream", but we would like to keep the percentage of supported format materials in T-Space as high as possible. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

T-Space Format Reference Collection (UofT installation of T-Space)

In the table below, MIME type is the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) type identifier; for more information on MIME, see the MIME RFCs or the MIME FAQ. Description is what most people use as the name for the format. Extensions are typical file name extensions (the part after the dot, e.g. the extension for "index.html" is "html"). These are not case-sensitive in T-Space, so either "sample.XML" or "sample.xml" will be recognized as XML. Level is T-Space's support level for each format:

  • supported: we fully support the format
  • known: we can recognize the format, but cannot guarantee full support
  • unsupported: we cannot recognize a format; these will be listed as "application/octet-stream", aka Unknown
MIME type
Description Extensions MIME type Level
MARC marc, mrc application/marc supported
Mathematica ma application/mathematica known
Microsoft Word doc application/msword known
Unknown (anything not listed) application/octet-stream unsupported
Adobe PDF pdf application/pdf supported
Postscript ps, eps, ai application/postscript supported
SGML sgm, sgml application/sgml known
Microsoft Excel xls application/vnd.ms-excel known
Microsoft Powerpoint ppt application/vnd.ms-powerpint known
Microsoft Project mpp, mpx, mpd application/vnd.ms-project known
Microsoft Visio vsd application/vnd.visio known
WordPerfect wpd application/wordperfect5.1 known
TeXdvi dvi application/x-dvi known
FMP3 fm application/x-filemaker known
LateX latex application/x-latex known
Photoshop psd, pdd application/x-photoshop known
TeX tex application/x-tex known
AIFF aiff, aif, aifc audio/x-aiff supported
audio/basic au, snd audio/basic known
MPEG Audio mpa, abs, mpeg audio/x-mpeg known
RealAudio ra, ram audio/x-pn-realaudio known
WAV wav audio/x-wav known
GIF gif image/gif supported
JPEG jpeg, jpg image/jpeg supported
PNG png image/png supported
TIFF tiff, tif image/tiff supported
BMP bmp image/x-ms-bmp known
Photo CD pcd image/x-photo-cd known
HTML html, htm text/html supported
Text txt text/plain supported
Rich Text Format rtf text/richtext supported
XML xml text/xml supported
MPEG mpeg, mpg, mpe video/mpeg known
Video Quicktime mov, qt video/quicktime known


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