This page details the long history of the OIFITS standard.

OIFITS version 1

The idea of a common data format for optical and infrared interferometry arose through discussions at the June 2000 NSF-sponsored meeting in Socorro. From 2001 to 2008, Tom Pauls and John Young were responsible, under the auspices of the IAU (and encouraged by Peter Lawson), for coordinating discussion on this topic, and for producing and maintaining the specification document for a FITS-based format.

Preliminary drafts of the format specification were discussed by the community at the 198th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in June 2001, and the IAU Working Group Meeting in August 2001. The discussion continued by email amongst various interested parties, and the document was revised.

A public pre-release of the format specification and accompanying C code was made in March 2002, followed by a second pre-release of the document in April 2002. This draft was discussed at the August 2002 IAU Working Group Meeting. Comments were presented by participants from the European Southern Observatory and the Interferometry Science Center at Caltech. Since the IAU WG meeting there were two further pre-releases of the format specification, prior to the first ‘production’ release.

The standard was frozen on 7 April 2003 (release 5 of the specification document), meaning that subsequent changes to OIFITS require increments of the revision numbers for the changed tables. The standard was formalized in 2005 by publication in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. There were no changes to the format at this time.

OIFITS version 2

Discussions about an updated OIFITS standard were begun by the working group on interferometry data standards within IAU Commission 54 (Optical/Infrared Interferometry), which was in existence from 2006-2015. The initial ideas for OIFITS version 2 were published in Young et al. 2008.

Gilles Duvert and Christian Hummel subsequently lead the work to define and publish OIFITS version 2, in support of the deployment of GRAVITY and MATISSE at VLTI. These efforts culminated in the publication of OIFITS version 2 in Duvert, Young and Hummel 2017. A record of community discussions in the run-up to publication is available on the OIFITSTwoProject wiki page at JMMC.

Maintenance updates to OIFITS version 2 are published on arXiv. There has been one update since publication in A&A, in December 2019.