Amateur Data Interchange Format: Everything You Need to Know

The Amateur Data Interchange Format (ADIF) is intended to be a vendor-neutral personal computer file format intended to allow radio amateur station logs created in one program to be used by other software.

According to proponents of this standard, “If you purchase a software package that supports ADIF import and export, you are assured that you can easily use multiple programs and move data among them, and share log data with friends or QSL managers.

You never need to worry about the obsolescence of your data. If your publisher goes out of business or no longer supports new platforms, you can choose from a large selection of other programs that will load your logs without retyping everything.”


The notion of a standardized way of exchanging data between amateurs was first proposed in 1996 by Jim KK7A. To this end an internet discussion forum was set up. Ray WF1B and Dennis WN4AZY used the suggestions from the discussion forum to create a proposed format. By 1997, the format had been accepted and is now in almost universal use.

One of the advantages of ADIF is that it is in a sense a “kernel” to which new specifications can be added without damaging the standard. It can handle binary data and text with equal ease, is useable in any language and can be transferred digitally without encoding and decoding.


ADIF consists of four components:

  1. How fields and records are stored – this is known as the Specifications
  2. How the data is stored, eg the date format. These are known as the Field Type Specifications
  3. The list of data elements – which values will be accepted. These are known as the Field Definitions
  4. Descriptions of each data category, eg, the definition of log data. These are known as File Definitions

Coders who wish to add additional fields that are not defined in ADIF are free to do so, but they will likely not be imported into ADIF compatible programs with all fields intact.

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