One of the advantages of most scientific file formats is that you have a block of attached metadata that tells a reader how to read / interpret the file (what the fields are, for the most part -- how they're encoded, what their meaning is, etc. Also, metadata about the document as a whole)
We've got a number of scientists that we'll likely never get them moved away from some form of ASCII tables, be they fixed-width, tab-delim or CSV.
Are there any community-wide standards for making text files self-documenting?
update : I'm not asking about XML. I want to know about community standards for making plain text files self-documenting. The scientists have absolutely no desire to package their data in some horribly bloated format (not even VOTable when fixed-width or tab delim ASCII tables do 99% of what they need.)
update 2 : as 'fixed-width ASCII tables' might not be used by all communities, they've been used for data transfer for decades, and they generally try to cram a lot into ~80 columns. For instance, the NOAA Solar Proton Events or CDAW Type II Radio Bursts. Then you have stuff that's not fixed-width, such as SPASE Event Lists (tab delim) or METAR (which is much more complex, as it's tokenized and some parts are optional so you have to use formating cues).