The general structure of information files

Information files are arranged in a hierarchy, with upper files referencing lower files. There are 5 main file types in obsinfo:



Filled by

When filled


Deployed stations, their instruments and parameters

OBS facility

after a campaign


Instrument description

OBS facility

new/changed instruments





Description of basic components

OBS facility -or- component manufacturer

when there are new are new components or calibrations


Description of stages

digitizers, amplifiers/filters)

OBS facility -or- component manufacturer

when there are new components or calibrations


Description of filters amplifiers and digitizers used in stages

OBS facility -or- component manufacturer

when there are new components or calibrations

The hierarchy is a best practice. In principle, all information contained in lower level files can be included in the network file. However, it is highly recommended that the “$ref” functionality to refer to other files is used.

File Hierarchy

It is recommended to arrange the information files in a file hierarchy such as this:


/authors (contains files used in headers of other information files)
[instrumentation_componenent]/stages/filters (filters can be substituted by a specific kind of filter: FIR, PZ, etc.)

where [instrumentation_componenent] = sensors, preamplifiers or dataloggers.

Another possibility is to arrange instrument components under instrumentation, but that may cause extra typing while writing references ($ref)in information files. That would be something like this:



The hierarchy is completely up to the user, including the names of the folders/directories. In fact, it is perfectly possible to put all the information in a single file, although it is not recommended as reusability of filters, stages or components depends on independent files.

To reference a file from within another file, use the JREF syntax:

authors: - {$ref: "authors/"}

The effect of this directive is at the core of the philosophy of obsinfo, as it is this mechanism which allows reuse: it substitutes the content of the key author within the file authors/` as the value of the key authors. If you want to include the complete file, remove the #author anchor.

How to express absolute and relative paths, and their meaning, are discussed later.

File Naming Convention

While there is flexibility about the folder hierarchy, information files must follow the following naming convention:

<descriptive file name>.<obsinfo file type>.<file format>


<descriptive file name> usually includes vendor and configuration shorthand to make the file easily identifiable by users,

<obsinfo file type> is one of campaign, network, instrumentation, sensor, preamplifier, datalogger, stage, filter

<file format> is one of yaml or json.


  • TI_ADS1281_FIR1.stage.yaml is a stage with a Texas Instruments FIR filter nested in it, in YAML format.

  • is a network of broad-band stations deployed by INSU IPGP, in JSON format.

There are two resources, other than this tutorial, to look up the exact syntax for each information file. The different pages have a complete explanation of all the attributes in the class. Unless otherwise noted, YAML keys or labels (also called fields or sections) in the file have the same exact name (case sensitive) as the attributes in the class. The other resource is the formal syntax of the file, which is a JSON schema, which is always referenced in the Class page.

File Metadata

All information files contain or may contain common metadata. format_version and revision are required.

  • format_version: - This is a required field. It reflects the template version against which this file must be validated

  • revision: - Revision information (date in particular) to keep change control of file.

    • date: - date of revision

    • authors: - authors of revision, usually a reference to an author file

  • notes: - Optional extra information which will not be put in final metadata.

  • yaml_anchors: - YAML anchors to avoid redundancy, for advanced YAML users. Here is a guide on how to use YAML anchors.

  • Next page: Building a simple network file

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