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mzXML is an open data format for storage and exchange of mass spectroscopy data, developed at the SPC/Institute for Systems Biology. mzXML provides a standard container for ms and ms/ms proteomics data and is the foundation of our proteomic pipelines. Raw, proprietary file formats from most vendors can be converted to the open mzXML format.

Patrick Pedrioli was the primary original author; please see the references below for the often-cited Nature Biotech publication.

Several versions of this format exist. Currently these are 1.0 (also called "msXML"), 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, and 3.1. 3.1 is the current version. The offical XML Schema components for the format are available at mzXML schema.


Converters: status and summary table

All known formats and their converters are summarized in the table below:

Compatible Mass-Spectrometer Instrument-Specific Software and File Formats:

Compatible Mass-Spec instrument-specific file formats
raw file vendor instrument acquisition software raw file type raw-to-mzXML converter SPC maintained? converter status/notes download
Bruker (?) .baf CompassXport page no (Bruker supported) refer to vendor; see CompassXport page
Thermo XCalibur .RAW file ReAdW yes, SPC official release: 4.3.0, August 2009; see ReAdW page
Waters MassLynx .RAW directory wolf yes, SPC no centroiding offical release: 4.3.0, August 2009; see wolf page
MDS/Sciex for ABI and Agilent Analyst, AnalystQS .wiff file mzWiff yes, SPC official release: 4.3.0, August 2009: see mzWiff page
Agilent MassHunter .d directory trapper yes, SPC official release: 4.3.0, August 2009: see trapper page
ABI (?) (?) T2DExtractor no (Andrews Lab) 4700/4800 MALDI TOFTOF converter; known issue: correct instrument name is not recorded in mzXML; charge state info is not recorded in mzXML link
ABI (?) (?) PyMsXML no ABI Mariner, Voyager converter external link

Other Compatible MS File Formats:

Other compatible MS file formats
format original use text-to-mzXML converter SPC maintained? converter status/notes download
.dta sequest dta2mzXML yes in TPP release refer to TPP page
.pkl  ? pkl2mzXML yes in TPP release pkl2mzXML
.mgf mascot  ?  ?  ?  ?

Converter Overview

The first step in processing ms or ms/ms data with SPC proteomics software is conversion of raw data to our open mzXML format.

direct vendor support


Bruker directly supports the mzXML format, using their CompassXport program:

  • CompassXport is the recommended converter for Bruker (.baf) files. (And for historical reasons only, we provide a page on our own (SPC-created) retired open-source Bruker converter, mzBruker.) Also, see Additional Resources, below.

SPC/TPP supported proprietary formats

The TPP project supports a wide variety of mass-spec instrument formats. Currently, we provide software tools (converters) for the following vendor formats. Follow the links for more specific information for each converter:


  • ReAdW: Thermo/XCalibur raw data (.RAW files) to mzXML converter

Analyst (ABI/MDS Sciex)

  • mzWiff: Analyst (ABI/MDS Sciex) software's raw data (.wiff files) to mzXML converter.

Waters Masslynx

  • massWolf: MassLynx (Waters) raw data (.raw directories) to mzXML converter

Agilent MassHunter

  • trapper: MassHunter (Agilent) raw data (.d directories) to mzXML converter

Other SPC/TPP supported MS file formats


The dta format is a simple text file describing precursor m/z and a peaklist table. This format was originally developed for Sequest. No annotation metadata is stored in this format, so you will loose information going from raw to dta then back to mzXML.


Command-line program to convert pkl files to mzXML files.


The mgf format is another simple text format developed for the Mascot search engine.

Other external converter projects

These projects are not supported by the SPC, but may be of use.


  • T2Extractor - SCIEX/ABI 4700/4800 MALDI TOFTOF Data to mzXML: Java application to convert data from a SCIEX/ABI 4000 series MALDI TOFTOF instruments into mzXML format. This application is provided courtesy of Phil Andrews lab at the University of Michigan. Please see this link: [1]

ABI Mariner, Voyager

Converting mzXML to other formats


This program can convert to dta, mgf, pkl, and ms2 formats.


This program can convert to many output formats, including mzML. Eventually, this program will be a general purpose converter, converting from all common raw formats into both mzML and mzXML. Here is a summary of what it can do and can't do in its installation at the Institute for Systems Biology.

Viewing mzXML files


The Pep3D program, included with the TPP, produces a gel-like image, which is very useful for getting an overview of an entire run. It can also link to CID and peptide probability information.

Insilicos viewer

We also recommend the free InSilicos Viewer, which can display mzXML, mzData, and other formats.

Additional Resources

  • working with Bioworks Sequest output. See Software:Out2XML page.
  • working with Bruker ion trap and DataAnalysis software. See Software:da2tpp page.

Parsing mzXML data


RAMP: C/C++ API, contained in TPP and basis for TPP tools. Also parses mzData.

JRAP: java API

Related Formats

Please note that while widely accepted in the proteomics community mzXML is format, not a standard. There are two other open ms/ms proteomic formats: mzData and mzML. mzData was the first attempt, created by the HUPO/PSI committee process. Many vendors wanted to wait until the format was finalized (a process which took two years); in the meantime, mzXML was developed to fill the need.

mzML is a new format released 6/2008 which aims to marry the best elements of mzXML and mzData, and represents a joint effort of the HUPO/PSI committee, SPC/ISB, instrument vendors, and other proteomics software groups. It is intended and expected that mzML will replace the use of mzXML and mzData. For more information, visit the mzML development page. As of version 4.0, the TPP supports mzML through an interface between RAMP and Proteowizard.


  • mzXML 2.0 format guide by Patrick Pedrioli: outdated but a very useful reference document.
  • Pedrioli PGA, Eng JK, Hubley R, Vogelzang M, Deutsch EW, Raught B, Pratt B, Nilsson E, Angeletti R, Apweiler R, Cheung K, Costello CE, Hermjakob H, Huang S, Julian RK Jr, Kapp E, McComb ME, Oliver SG, Omenn G, Paton NW, Simpson R, Smith R, Taylor CF, Zhu W, Aebersold R. (2004) "A Common Open Representation of Mass Spectrometry Data and its Application in a Proteomics Research Environment." Nature Biotechnology 22(11):1459-1466. Download PDF
  • Learn more at the Sashimi project website, the original website for the mzXML format.
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