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5.2 Conventions for Binary Tables

  In the paper presenting the binary table extension (Cotton, Tody and Pence 1995; hereafter CTP), three conventions are described in appendixes. While these conventions were not part of the formal extension rules endorsed by the IAUFWG, a number of keywords were reserved with the intention that those keywords would be used for these conventions. Those keywords should not be used for any purpose inconsistent with these conventions. Publication in the binary table paper means that the these conventions will be widely recognized even without formal IAUFWG endorsement. Unless there is agreement by a particular community or group of FITS users on an alternative convention, the goal of standardizing formats for convenient data transport will best be achieved if users adopt these conventions when formatting their data in FITS.

The HEASARC FITSIO and FTOOLS packages support both variable length arrays and multidimensional arrays. The IUEDAC software in IDL can read both variable length and multidimensional arrays and can write multidimensional arrays but not variable length arrays.