FUnctionality Sharing In Open eNvironments
Heinz Nixdorf Chair for Distributed Information Systems

Fascinating Research Developments: PDbFs(Portable Database Files)


One of the biggest issues of our publication culture is that our publications only publish a summary of the final result of a long project. This means that we only put well-polished graphs describing (some) of our experimental results into our publications. However, the algorithms, input datasets, benchmarks, raw result datasets, as well as scripts that were used to produce the graphs rarely published and typically not available to other researchers. Often they are only available when personally asking the authors. In many cases, however, they are not available at all.


So, to solve this problem of irreproducibility in research, Jens Dittrich from Saarland University Germany has come up with a hybrid form of a pdf document. These files are jani-form, i.e. they are at the same time a standard static pdf file as well as a highly dynamic (offline) HTML document. PDbFs allow users to access the raw data behind a graph, perform OLAP-style analysis, and reproduce their own graphs from the raw data — all within a portable document.


It runs through a java compiler, which invokes the latex and PDBF configuration files to locate and fix the static and HTML content within the latex file. This, then calls the PDbFs interpreter to keep track of the current working environment of the file. In the sense, if the file is opened in a browser then, it will render dynamic HTML content like interactive graphs, query processing etc. However, if it is opened through pdf reader, then it will hide the HTML content. So, it will function in a hybrid way just by changing the extensions of the file.


To run the demo and for further readings, please visit author’s site