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The openPMD Standard


Technical files of the openPMD standard.


The openPMD standard, short for open standard for particle-mesh data files is not a file format per se. It is a standard for meta data and naming schemes.

openPMD provides naming and attribute conventions that allow to exchange particle and mesh based data from scientific simulations and experiments. The primary goals are to define

  • a minimal set/kernel of meta information

that allows to share and exchange data to achieve

  • portability between various applications and differing algorithms
  • a unified open-access description for scientific data (publishing and archiving)
  • a unified description for post-processing, visualization and analysis.

openPMD suits for any kind of hierarchical, self-describing data format, such as, but not limited to


Open, hierarchical, machine-independent, self-describing (binary) data formats are available for a while now. Nevertheless, without a certain agreement for a domain of applications, standard tasks like automated data processing and import/export do not come for free.

This standard tries to bridge the gap between the common "blob of data" and the algorithms, methods and/or schemes that created these.

Users or "Why should I care?"

If output from programs, devices (such as cameras), simulations or post-processed data-sets contain a minimal set of meta information as provided by openPMD, you can exchange data between those with minimal effort and you use the same tools for visualization.

Furthermore, since openPMD is not a file format but just an object-oriented markup and meta data naming convention you can still use the large variety of tools that come with the intrinsic data format that you chose to use (e.g., HDF5 or ADIOS BP). Of course you are completely free to use your favorite software (open source or proprietary) to create or process your files.

If the software you are using is not yet able to read/write the information needed to fulfill the openPMD standard, please talk to your software developers and point them to these documents: further adoptions of the current standard and contributions for the design of upcoming versions are very welcome!


The content of this standard is provided under the CC-BY 4.0 license (see list of authors) and auxiliary software, if not stated otherwise, under the ISC license.

For more details, see the contributions page.