Wednesday, November 16, 2005

FILE FORMAT REGISTRY: new version released by the UK National Archives

I received this press release today:

The UK National Archives has released PRONOM 4, the latest version of its web-based technical registry to support long-term digital preservation. Adrian Brown, Head of Digital Preservation, at The National Archives said: ‘PRONOM 4 incorporates a number of significant enhancements, including an automatic file format identification tool.’


  • Now holds detailed technical information about individual file formats, including links to the full format specifications where available
  • In anticipation of the launch of the PRONOM Unique Identifier scheme, later in 2005, PRONOM 4 now also supports the use of unique identifiers. The scheme will provide persistent unique identifiers for file formats recorded in PRONOM, and has already been adopted as the preferred encoding scheme for describing formats within the e-Government Metadata Standard in the UK
  • Introduces DROID (Digital Record Object Identification) the first in a planned series of tools, which use the content of the registry to provide specialized preservation services. DROID is an automatic file format identification tool, which uses byte signatures stored in PRONOM to identify and report the specific file format versions of digital files

Dr Peter Townsend, Commercial Director of Tessella, said: “The introduction of DROID will allow repositories all over the world to identify the format of the files they need to preserve, and take a first step on the road to long-term preservation. One of the first repositories that will take advantage of this new tool will be the award-winning Digital Archive, developed by Tessella for the UK National Archives.”

Kevin Gell, Managing Director of Tessella, said: “Tessella has built a long-standing relationship with the UK National Archives, which includes the development of all four releases of PRONOM. Projects such as these, and the Electronic Records Archives program for the US National Archives and Records Administration, are demonstrating to the world that the seemingly insurmountable problems of digital preservation are beginning to be solved, and that the benefits of innovative solutions can be shared with the rest of the digital preservation community.”

Adrian Brown continued: “There is an ongoing programme of development for PRONOM, and we very much welcome feedback, including ideas for future enhancements. We are also always interested to hear from anyone who is either using, or would like to use, PRONOM content or services.”

Notes to editors: [edited]
  • The UK National Archives hold one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1,000 years of British history. Launched in 2004, the National Archives brings together the Public Records Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, and is responsible for the long-term preservation of, and access to, Government records in an authentic and complete state. Increasingly these records are ‘born digital’ files published by government departments. []
  • The Digital Archive stores important UK Government records, including public enquiries such as the Hutton Inquiry, the websites of Number 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet office, e-mails, web pages and databases. []
  • For further information on PRONOM please visit:
  • For further information on DROID please visit:

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