Many disciplines have specialist software for taking and analysing data, be it Microsoft tools like OneNote, Word, and Excel, or instrument specific software such as AIPS (Astronomical Image Processing System) for radio telescopes. Microsoft software has been around for decades, but every time a new version is released, old documents become harder to access and edit.

The one rule when it comes to selecting software is access.

You need to consider the stability and longevity of the software so that you do not choose software which has specific formats associated with it that would not be accessible, and thus lost, if that software were not maintained and fell into disuse.


Consider the film industry. Reconditioned Betamax players are now required to play back family movies from the 1970s, which have hopefully not been damaged over time. VHS players were still used into the 2010s so that software is available to convert VHS into digital formats.

If you choose software that is likely to be short-lived, for example if your instrument is only commissioned for a couple of years, then you should assure that you preserve a reusable dataset by converting it to a more standard format.