I attended a Society of American Archivists (SAA) workshop on Encoded Archival Context: Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) and thought that I’d share a bit of what I learned.
EAC-CPF is a data structure standard that organizes information about creators of archival resources. EAC-CPF records, which are commonly expressed in XML, allow for description, control, and linking of related resources within a search and browse environment. The standard was formally adopted by the SAA in 2011. EAC-CPF is meant to express and be fully compliant with the international standard for archival authority description, International Standard for Archival Authority Records—Corporate Bodies, Persons, Families (ISAAR(CPF)). The SAA Technical Subcommittee responsible for the authoring of the standards worked fairly extensively with the international archives community to ensure that the standard was relevant to archival work being done worldwide.
For those who know something about EAD (a companion standard for structuring information about archival resources), here are some of the mechanical differences between EAD and EAC-CPF:
- EAC-CPF uses camelCase for element names. All letters of the first word are lowercase and the first letter of each of the following words are capitalized; for example: EAC-CPF: biogHist; EAD: bioghist.
- Tag order matters in EAC-CPF. Files will not validate if tags are not properly ordered in the XML document. Commentary: I understand the rationale but this was a pain to work with, especially for a beginner.
- Element names are not abbreviated in EAC-CPF. Well, a few exceptions were made for elements that are in exact parallel to EAD elements; however, the EAC-CPF element names are in camelCase: biogHist, chronList, and chronItem.
The EAC-CPF standard emerges just as both the archival content standard (DACS) and the archival data structure standard for resource description (EAD) are being revised. Editorial boards for each of these standards are communicating with one another and keeping tabs on the progress being made on these concurrent standards revisions.
If you’re not allergic to XML, you can take a peak at some examples that are available on the standard’s website.