Are There Best Practices for Developing New NetCDF Conventions?

Hi folks,

We are developing CF compliant netCDF files with additional (or "optional") metadata in the netCDF header from our own sources, e.g., a subset of the FGDC metadata content standard, our Rich Inventory database, etc... Our sources are potentially new, additional netCDF conventions, and so our essential question is if there is a best practices guide for netCDF convention developers, especially so that various conventions do not clash or conflict with each other.

For example, if we are free to name our new, homemade netCDF attributes however we like, could those attribute names conflict with existing or future netCDF conventions? Is there any mechanism for indicating which convention(s) a netCDF attribute complies with? Is there a namespace mechanism so that if two conventions use the same name for an attribute, that attribute can be disambiguated?

We're also wondering what to do for those attributes which serve both the CF convention and our own FGDC (or others) convention. For the sake of netCDF software that is looking for CF attributes we'd have to name such a common attribute using its CF name, but what if we also wanted to ensure that that common attribute remained associated with its FGDC siblings? (E.g., suppose we wanted to extract all FGDC attributes from the netCDF header?) Do we then need to define that attribute twice, once with its CF name and once with its FGDC name?

So we are wondering what the netCDF conventions community thinks about these considerations, and any advice or experience they may offer us on how to add our own attributes to a netCDF file in a coherent way that is harmonious with other, existing conventions.

Thank you -- Mark

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