Starlink Tables Infrastructure Library

Generic Java Table Handling for Astronomy

What is STIL?

STIL is a pure Java library for generic input, output and processing of tabular data. It presents to the application programmer a view of a table which looks the same regardless of whether it came from a FITS file, a VOTable, an ASCII text file, a query on a relational database, or whatever. Thus the application doesn't have to worry about the storage format of tables either when reading or writing them, it can concentrate on doing processing. STIL's idea of a table is rich enough to include table and column metadata, and table cells which contain scalar or single- or multi-dimensional array data of numerical, string or other types. This is well suited to astronomical data, though it can be of use in other fields as well.

STIL comes with a range of supported input and output formats (including VOTable, FITS, SQL, ASCII, CSV, CDF, GBIN) and can be extended to cope with others.


Generic Features

The generic table I/O has the following features:

VOTable Features

STIL includes sophisticated facilities for VOTable I/O which can, if desired, be used largely independently of the rest of the package. As well as the general features listed above this has the following features:

One section of the user guide is dedicated to STIL's VOTable-specific features.

Supported Formats

The following formats are currently supported for table input:

and the following for table output:


There are two main sources of documentation for STIL:

You can download the full documentation set (SUN/252 in various forms plus javadocs) in the documentation zip file.


The current version of STIL is 3.2, released 8 March 2017.

STIL is released under the LGPL. The main components are available here:

Alternatively you can download STILTS or TOPCAT in one of their forms - both of these applications contain the whole of STIL.

Previous versions can be found at You can see the version history in the user document.

STIL has been developed using the Java 2 Standard Edition 1.6.0, but is expected to work with any 1.6 or later version of the J2SE.

Further Information

If you like STIL, you'll love

the STIL Tool Set, a set of command-line tools for table manipulation.
a graphical tool for table browsing / plotting / analysis / editing which benefits from all STIL's features.

The following mailing lists exist for topics related to STIL and friends:

If you have any comments, questions, requests, bugs etc, please either use the topcat-user mailing list, or contact me direct: