Module tf.about.fileformats

TF File Format


A .tf feature file starts with a header, and is followed by the actual data. The whole file is a plain text in UNICODE-utf8.

A .tf feature file always starts with one or more metadata lines of the form




The first line must be either






This tells TF whether the data in the feature file is a node feature or an edge feature. The value @config means that the file will be used as configuration info. It will only have metadata.

There must also be a type declaration:


where type is str or int. @valueType declares the type of the values in this feature file. If it is anything other than str (=string), TF will convert it to that type when it reads the data from the file. Currently, the only other supported type is int for integers.

In edge features, there may also be a declaration


indicating that the edge feature carries values. The default is that an edge does not carry values.

The rest of the metadata is optional for now, but it is recommended to put a date stamp in it like this


The time format should be ISO 8601.


After the metadata, there must be exactly one blank line, and every line after that is data.

Data lines

The form of a data line is

node_spec value

for node features, and

node_spec node_spec value

for edge features.

These fields are separated by single tabs.

NB: This is the default format. Under Optimizations below we shall describe the bits that can be left out, which will lead to significant improvement in space demands and processing speed.

Node Specification

Every line contains a feature value that pertains to all nodes defined by its node_spec, or to all edges defined by its pair of node_specs.

A node spec denotes a set of nodes.

The simplest form of a node spec is just a single integer. Examples:


Ranges are also allowed. Examples


The nodes denoted by a range are all numbers between the endpoints of the range (including at both sides). So


denotes the nodes 2, 3, and 4.

You can also combine numbers and ranges arbitrarily by separating them with commas. Examples


Such a specification denotes the union of what is denoted by each comma-separated part.

NB As node specs denote sets of nodes, the following node specs are in fact equivalent

1,1 and 1
2-3 and 3,2
1-5,2-7 and 1-7

We will be tolerant in that you may specify the end points of ranges in arbitrary order:

1-3 is the same as 3-1


An edge is specified by an ordered pair of nodes. The edge is from the first node in the pair to the second one. An edge spec consists of two node specs. It denotes all edges that are from a node denoted by the first node spec to a node denoted by the second node spec. An edge might be labeled, in that case the label of the edge is specified by the value after the two node specs.


The value is arbitrary text. The type of the value must conform to the @valueType declaration in the feature file. If it is missing, it is assumed to be str, which is the type of UNICODE-utf8 strings. If it is int, it should be a valid representation of an integer number,

There are a few escapes:

  • \\ backslash
  • \t tab
  • \n newline These characters MUST always be escaped in a value string, otherwise the line as a whole might be ambiguous.

NB: There is no representation for the absence of a value. The empty string as value means that there is a value and it is the empty string. If you want to describe the fact that node n does not have a value for the feature in question, the node must be left out of the feature. In order words, there should be no data line in the feature that targets this node.

If the declared value type (@valueType) of a feature is int, then its empty values will be taken as absence of values, though.

Consistency requirements

There are a few additional requirements on feature data, having to do with the fact that features annotate nodes or edges of a graph.

Single values

It is assumed that a node feature assigns only one value to the same node. If the data contains multiple assignments to a node, only the last assignment will be honoured, the previous ones will be discarded.

Likewise, it is assumed that an edge feature assigns only one value to the same edge. If the data contains multiple assignments to an edge, only the last assignment will be honoured.

Violations maybe or may not be reported, and processing may continue without warnings.

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