Organ Specifications in XML
(a proposed standard)


This is a proposal for a standard format for storing and transmitting organ specifications. There are a number of on-line repositories of organ specifications, including Osiris and the IOF. Each one uses a different format for storing specs, none of which are well optimized for advanced searching or data analysis, often being simply semi-formatted or unformatted text files. This proposed standard will make it feasible to perform data analysis on a level heretofore unattainable.

Why Bother?

This effort grew out of the development of the Encyclopedia of Organ Stops. Research for that project included trying to answer questions like:

Tools were built for searching the existing archives, but the relatively unformatted nature of the data necessitated a considerable amount of hand-sifting through data. A better data format would have made these questions, and others, answerable simply by issuing the right database query. The use of such statistics can be used in many areas of organ research.

Why XML?

XML has emerged as a universal meta-format that is well suited for this task, and for which a large body of software exists. Therefore, this proposed standard is based on XML, and consists mainly of an XML DTD (Document Type Definition) and guidelines for its use. An XML Schema is also under development. More information on XML may be found at


Complete documentation on the OrganSpec XML standard may be found here:

The Complete Specification (frames version)

The Complete Specification (no frames)

Downloadable Complete Specification (zipped archive, 91k)

Version 0.1 - archive of the original version 0.1 spec, now obsolete.


Software to support the OrganSpec standard is under development. The following software is available:

C# .Net Class Library - a class library for reading and writing OrganSpec files.

OrganSpecEdit - a Microsoft Windows .Net application for creating, editing and viewing OrganSpec files.

Java Class Library - a class library for reading and writing OrganSpec files.

Other tools under development include:

Your Comments are Needed!

This standard is now in draft form, and has been released for public comment. The public comment period will last at least until 31 December 2002, during which updates to the draft may be made. After the public comment period, version 1.0 of the standard will be finalized and released.

Please send any comments, corrections or suggestions to:

Ed Stauff -
Please remove the "SPAM_SUX" spamguard before sending to this address.
Also, please check the Comments & Suggestions already received before sending in yours.

Copyright © Institute for Pipe Organ Research And Education, Inc. 2002

Revision History

1 Jan 03 - Ed Stauff - added Software section.
21 Oct 02 - Ed Stauff - added Comments & Suggestions page.
20 Oct 02 - Ed Stauff - draft released for public comment.
11 Oct 02 - Ed Stauff - final edits before release.
4 Sept 02 - Edward L. Stauff - first draft in progress.