The AGS data format is being upgraded to version 4, this note explains the thinking behind the changes, gives the reasons for the changes and develops the potential advantages which this offers for the future.
A beta version of AGS4 will be available for public comment before the end of the year and comments will be welcome before final publication.
The AGS data transfer format consists of 3 parts, the data dictionary, the data structure and the transfer format itself which allows the computers to read and write the files. Each of these has been updated.
The data dictionary contains the list of data items which can be transferred. This has been extended to include all the items required by the new Euro Codes and associated British Standards, the information necessary for accreditation of test results by external bodies and the typical information included in a Quality Assurance scheme.
The organisation of the laboratory test results have been restructured to provide separate groups for each test, using paired tables where appropriate. A separate table has been introduced for the results of geotechnical chemical testing for the aggressivity of the ground to concrete in accordance with BRE Special Digest 1.
Rock testing has been divided into aggregate and geotechnical tests.
By working in close association with the geoenvironmentalists a new group, ERES, has been added for the test results for environmental samples.
Within the data dictionary an additional key field has been added to the sample table to be known as SAMP_SID, (sample identifier) which will enable the use of a single identifier for samples to be used where this is appropriate. This is particularly relevant for geoenvironmental studies, particularly when taking monitoring samples, and also facilitates the use of new technology in the form of ‘bar coded’ samples.
The rules for the writing of the transfer file have been simplified with the removal of the 256 character restriction which has deleted the need for the <CONT> line, a throw back to the days of 8bit computers. This has permitted the addition of line headers which simplify the format even further. The CSV format has been retained rather than move to XML as this is being investigated by others and taking much longer than expected. After four years of study there seems to be no commercial advantages to changing to XML at this time for the UK geotechnical industry.