Researching file formats 11: MOOF

This blog post is part of a series on file formats research. See this introduction post for more information.

Update: The official format definition is now online here: MOOF Disk Image. Comments welcome directly to the Library of Congress.

The most interesting thing about this format is that its named after Susan Kare’s dogcow icon. (“Comments welcome” – Is there something more interesting?)

This might be the first very lean format I’m working with, where I have the specification (in this case, reference document) and there’s not a ton of other info out there on the web. Most of the other formats have been growing and changing with time, getting adopted by other use cases, getting updated and modified and forking off into adjacent formats, all of that.

MOOF is such a new format, so there’s less time for it to sit with the larger community and have the idiosyncrasies jump out, I think. This and the clear and open reference document made this format easier to review, but I can’t help but worry that there are other issues that have yet to be discovered, and thus I’m not able to cite. Every format comes out with the best intentions, and then they just live in the world for a while and things start to get complicated.

So many of the formats I have been working through have had decades of time to be adopted, transform, change versions, change ownership, etc.. WordPerfect especially comes to mind, here.

In addition to all of that, I wonder if a lot of the opinions are now being done behind closed doors (e.g. Discord) rather than on open forums that end up living beyond their years on the Wayback machine, which is where I’ve done a lot of knowledge-gathering and citing for some of the older formats on the list.

A problem I’ve come across with this research work so far is that it doesn’t matter how well I know something to be true, it only matters that I can cite it from a reliable source. Old forums or listservs can be questionable in terms of authenticity, but they’re better than the walled gardens we have today, with this sort of knowledge (or opinions) happening in Facebook or Discord private spaces.

Ryan Baumann set me up with a script for an upcoming video about the MOOF format, along with its sibling, WOZ, here.

I don’t know why LC selected MOOF but not WOZ or A2R for addition to the Sustainability of Digital Formats list at this time.