ISA Model & Serialization Specifications

Published specifications: ISA Model & Serialization Specifications 1.0 (October 2016)

For more information, contact the ISA team.

ISA Compliance

If you are not using the ISA software suite to create ISA files, but want to create it with or export it from your own system, please make sure you:

  • read the published ISA Model and Serialization Specifications; understand the ISA Abstract Model specification and then read the relevant ISA format specification before producing an ISA-Tab or ISA-JSON.
  • validate the structure of the ISA content your system produces using the validators from the ISA API. Validators have been implemented for both ISA-Tab and ISA-JSON;
    • if you are developing for ISA-Tab, you can also download the ISAvalidator to check the validity of your structure using the default configuration file, distributed with the tool; and
  • if you need help contact the ISA Team.

We would like to hear from you to gather feedback on how to improve our documentation and the compliance process, and also to let people know who is using ISA. Major groups and systems using the ISA framework are listed on the ISA Commons website.

ISA Overview


The ISA Abstract Model, originally developed as a tabular format (ISA-Tab) since 2007, has been developed with several international collaborators and in synergy with related, domain-specific effort. ISA is now supported as a tabular format (ISA-Tab) and a JSON format (ISA-JSON), and by a programmable Python API (ISA API).

Example ISA-Tab files are available to view here.

Example ISA-JSON files are available to view on Github.

For more information about the ISA model and formats, please read the ISA Model and Serialization Specifications published on Read the Docs.