One of the primary reasons for using the netCDF interface for applications that deal with arrays is to take advantage of higher-level netCDF utilities and generic applications for netCDF data. Currently three netCDF utilities are available as part of the netCDF software distribution:
Users have contributed other netCDF utilities, and various visualization and analysis packages are available that access netCDF data. For an up-to-date list of freely-available and commercial software that can access or manipulate netCDF data, see the netCDF Software list, http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/netcdf/software.html.
This chapter describes the ncgen, ncdump, and nccopy utilities. These tools convert between binary netCDF datasets and a text representation of netCDF datasets, or between netCDF data format variants. The output of ncdump and the input to ncgen is a text description of a netCDF dataset in a tiny language known as CDL (network Common data form Description Language).