As described above, each chunk has a type. The format of the data contained in the chunk data field (when written in format 0) is described below. Note that no chunks are mandatory. It is valid to have no chunks at all. However some chunk types may depend on the existance of others. This will be indicated below, where applicable.
Each chunk type is stored as a 4-byte value. Bit 5 of the first byte is used to indicate whether the chunk type is part of the public ZTR spec (bit 5 of first byte == 0) or is a private/custom type (bit 5 of first byte == 1). Bit 5 of the remaining 3 bytes is reserved - they must always be set to zero.
Practically speaking this means that public chunk types consist entirely of upper case letters (eg TEXT) whereas private chunk types start with a lowercase letter (eg tEXT). Note that in this example TEXT and tEXT are completely independent types and they may have no more relationship with each other than (for example) TEXT and BPOS types.
It is valid to have multiples of some chunks (eg text chunks), but not for others (such as base calls). The order of chunks does not matter unless explicitly specified.
A chunk may have meta-data associated with it. This is data about the data chunk. For example the data chunk could be a series of 16-bit trace samples, while the meta-data could be a label attached to that trace (to distinguish trace A from traces C, G and T). Meta-data is typically very small and so it is never need be compressed in any of the public chunk types (although meta-data is specific to each chunk type and so it would be valid to have private chunks with compressed meta-data if desirable).
The first byte of each chunk data when uncompressed must be zero, indicating raw format. If, having read the chunk data, this is not the case then the chunk needs decompressing or reverse filtering until the first byte is zero. There may be a few padding bytes between the format byte and the first element of real data in the chunk. This is to make file processing simpler when the chunk data consists of 16 or 32-bit words; the padding bytes ensure that the data is aligned to the appropriate word size. Any padding bytes required will be listed in the appopriate chunk definition below.
The following lists the chunk types available in 32-bit big-endian format. In all cases the data is presented in the uncompressed form, starting with the raw format byte and any appropriate padding.
Meta-data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 +--+--+--+--+ Hex values | data name | +--+--+--+--+ Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 N +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+ Hex values | 0| 0| data| data| data| - | +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+
This encodes a series of 16-bit trace samples. The first data byte is the format (raw); the second data byte is present for padding purposes only. After that comes a series of 16-bit big-endian values.
The meta-data for this chunk contains a 4-byte name associated with the trace. If a name is shorter than 4 bytes then it should be right padded with nul characters to 4 bytes. For sequencing traces the four lanes representig A, C, G and T signals have names "A\0\0\0", "C\0\0\0", "G\0\0\0" and "T\0\0\0".
At present other names are not reserved, but it is recommended that (for consistency with elsewhere) you label private trace arrays with names starting in a lowercase letter (specifically, bit 5 is 1).
For sequencing traces it is expected that there will be four SAMP chunks, although the order is not specified.
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 N +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+ Hex values | 0| 0| data| data| data| - | +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+
The first byte is 0 (raw format). Next is a single padding byte (also 0). Then follows a series of 2-byte big-endian trace samples for the "A" trace, followed by a series of 2-byte big-endian traces samples for the "C" trace, also followed by the "G" and "T" traces (in that order). The assumption is made that there is the same number of data points for all traces and hence the length of each trace is simply the number of data elements divided by four.
This chunk is mutually exclusive with the SAMP chunks. If both sets are defined then the last found in the file should be used. Experimentation has shown that this gives around 3% saving over 4 separate SAMP chunks, but it lacks in
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 N +--+--+--+-- - --+ Hex values | 0| base calls | +--+--+--+-- - --+
The first byte is 0 (raw format). This is followed by the base calls in ASCII format (one base per byte). The base call case an encoding set should be IUPAC characters .
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+--+--+--+--+ Hex values | 0| padding| data | - | data | +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+- -+--+--+--+--+
This chunk contains the mapping of base call (BASE) numbers to sample (SAMP) numbers; it defines the position of each base call in the trace data. The position here is defined as the numbering of the 16-bit positions held in the SAMP array, counting zero as the first value.
The format is 0 (raw format) followed by three padding bytes (all 0). Next follows a series of 4-byte big-endian numbers specifying the position of each base call as an index into the sample arrays (when considered as a 2-byte array with the format header stripped off).
Excluding the format and padding bytes, the number of 4-byte elements should be identical to the number of base calls. All sample numbers are counted from zero. No sample number in BPOS should be beyond the end of the SAMP arrays (although it should not be assumed that the SAMP chunks will be before this chunk). Note that the BPOS elements may not be totally in sorted order as the base calls may be shifted relative to one another due to compressions.
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 N 4N +--+--+-- - --+--+----- - -----+ Hex values | 0| call confidence | A/C/G/T conf | +--+--+-- - --+--+----- - -----+ (N == number of bases in BASE chunk)
The first byte of this chunk is 0 (raw format). This is then followed by a series confidence values for the called base. Next comes all the remaining confidence values for A, C, G and T excluding those that have already been written (ie the called base). So for a sequence AGT we would store confidences A1 G2 T3 C1 G1 T1 A2 C2 T2 A3 C3 G3.
The purpose of this is to group the (likely) highest confidence value (those for the called base) at the start of the chunk followed by the remaining values. Hence if phred confidence values are written in a CNF4 chunk the first quarter of chunk will consist of phred confidence values and the last three quarters will (assuming no ambiguous base calls) consist entirely of zeros.
For the purposes of storage the confidence value for a base call that is not A, C, G or T (in any case) is stored as if the base call was T.
The confidence values should be from the "-10 * log10 (1-probability)". These values are then converted to their nearest integral value. If a program wishes to store confidence values in a different range then this should be stored in a different chunk type.
If this chunk exists it must exist after a BASE chunk.
Meta-data: none present Data: 0 +--+- - -+--+- - -+--+- -+- - -+--+- - -+--+--+ Hex values | 0| ident | 0| value | 0| - | ident | 0| value | 0| 0| +--+- - -+--+- - -+--+- -+- - -+--+- - -+--+--+
This contains a series of "identifier\0value\0" pairs.
The identifiers and values may be any length and may contain any data except the nul character. The nul character marks the end of the identifier or the end of the value. Multiple identifier-value pairs are allowable, with a double nul character marking the end of the list.
Identifiers starting with bit 5 clear (uppercase) are part of the public ZTR spec. Any public identifier not listed as part of this spec should be considered as reserved. Identifiers that have bit 6 set (lowercase) are for private use and no restriction is placed on these.
See below for the text identifier list.
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+ Hex values | 0| left clip | right clip| +--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+
This contains suggested quality clip points. These are stored as zero (raw data) followed by a 4-byte big endian value for the left clip point and a 4-byte big endian value for the right clip point. Clip points are defined in units of base calls, starting from 0. (Q: is that correct!?)
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 2 3 4 +--+--+--+--+--+ Hex values | 0| CRC-32 | +--+--+--+--+--+
This chunk is always just 4 bytes of data containing a CRC-32 checksum, computed according to the widely used ANSI X3.66 standard. If present, the checksum will be a check of all of the data since the last CR32 chunk. This will include checking the header if this is the first CR32 chunk, and including the previous CRC32 chunk if it is not. Obviously the checksum will not include checks on this CR32 chunk.
Meta-data: none present Data: Byte number 0 1 N +--+-- - --+ Hex values | 0| free text | +--+-- - --+
This allows arbitrary textual data to be added. It does not require a identifier-value pairing or any nul termination.