Pure File Magic (PFM)

PFM is designed to efficiently store bathymetric data and generate various representations of the data ("surfaces") for editing, display, and analysis.

Pure File Magic (PFM) is a file format for bathymetric data that is becoming more widely used in the maritime community. PFM is presently configuration-managed by the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO). PFM is designed to efficiently store processed soundings (after all corrections have been made for tides, draft, vessel offsets, etc.) and allow rapid editing of data outliers. The various "surfaces" (binned data) created from the soundings are used both as a quality assurance tool to find outliers as well as to display the data for analysis. Final PFM surfaces may then be exported in various formats for use by other software packages. The structure is particularly useful for data sets created by systems such as multibeam echosounders that collect a large quantity of data.

The goals of PFM are:

  • Portability among all major computing platforms
  • Efficiency in terms of storage volume and data access
  • Allow rapid identification and editing of data outliers (by user-developed software)

New releases of the PFM library are generally made as new functionality is added or significant bug fixes are made. New PFM releases provide an expansion of capability while striving to preserve all previous capability. By downloading and using the PFM distribution, you consent to use an approved distribution obtained from this web site. Parties interested in an update to the library are encouraged to provide their request through the registration link provided below. A PFM version release includes the following items:

  • PFM specification documentation
  • PFM library (PFMlib) documentation
  • Source code that comprise the PFM library (C language source code)


PFM Release Versions

  • Download version 6.40
    Released December 15, 2017 and includes changes between PFM 6.30 to 6.40 (Prevented orphaned file descriptors during error conditions.Fixed buffer overflows and invalid reads when bit packing.)

  • Download version 5.47
    Released June 21, 2012 is the first official release through this web site.

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