The STAR (Self-defining Text Archive and Retrieval) File was proposed by Hall, Allen & Brown (1991) as a universal approach to electronic data exchange and archiving. These provide for a simple, easy to comprehend, flexible, and extensible data exchange format.
The acronym CIF is used both for the Crystallographic Information File, the crystallographic data exchange standard file format based on STAR, and for the Crystallographic Information Framework, a broader system of exchange protocols based on data dictionaries and relational rules expressible in different machine-readable manifestations, including, but not restricted to, Crystallographic Information File and XML.
This site provide programming libraries and tools for handling STAR and CIF files.
A.STAR: A .Net library (programmed in C#) for STAR/CIF manipulation.
T.E.STAR: Text Editing supports for STAR/CIF (syntax highlighting, folding, etc. in miscellaneous text editors).
Hall, S. R. (1991). "The STAR File: A New Format for Electronic Data Transfer and Archiving", J. Chem. Info. Comp. Sci., 31, 326-333.
Hall, S. R. & Spadaccini, N. (1994). "The STAR File: Detailed Specifications," J. Chem. Info. Comp. Sci., 34, 505-508.
Hall, S. R., Allen, F. H. & Brown, I. D. (1991). "The Crystallographic Information File (CIF): A New Standard Archive File for Crystallography", Acta Cryst., A47, 655-685.
Crystallographic Information Framework, IUCr