BGS news

Update to BGS’s AGS file utilities tool released

BGS has released significant updates to its online tool for validating geotechnical data held as AGS files. The update includes improvements to the tool’s user interface and the ability to convert AGS data into MS Excel files.

19/06/2024 By BGS Press
Screenshot of the AGS4 file utilities tool and API with map markers over the UK.
Improved web graphical user interface (GUI) in the AGS4 file utilities tool and API. BGS © UKRI.

The AGS data format is used for sharing information about geotechnical projects, including boreholes, geological information, samples and test results. AGS is a key data type that the geotechnical industry is required to submit to the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC), which is managed by BGS as part of its national public good role. NGDC collects and preserves key geoscientific data, making it available in the long term to a wide range of users and for the benefit of future geotechnical projects. This type of data is particularly useful for preliminary desk-based studies in the early stages of such projects.

The AGS file utilities tool

In late 2021, BGS released the beta service of its AGS file utilities tool. The online tool is free and designed to be easy to use, allowing users to validate AGS files against both the official AGS data format rules and the data submission requirements for deposit within NGDC. The tool also lets users discover AGS data held by NGDC on behalf of the UK, view logs of the data and download AGS data held by BGS. It can also convert AGS data format files to and from MS Excel format with optional sorting strategies.

The latest update

This latest update to the AGS4 file utilities tool and API includes:

  • improved user interface
  • latest version (v0.5) of the official AGS python library
  • validation of the locations of AGS features on a map
  • ability to download a GeoJSON of all LOCA_ID features
  • .ags to .xlsx conversion with a choice of four sorting strategies

This work has been made possible by the efforts of the AGS Data Format Working Group, who have updated the underlying official AGS Python library.

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Having responded to user feedback, we are excited to release this update as the new features will enable users to improve the quality of data supplied, ensuring greater trust and utility in its reuse.

Edd Lewis, BGS Geospatial Analyst.

How to use the AGS file utilities tool

The application offers two ways to interact with the available tools: a web-based graphical user interface (GUI) and an application programming interface (API) for programmatic access. Files are not saved or stored by the AGS file utilities tool.

To validate an AGS file you need to specify three parameters:

  • which AGS version to use or the version specified in the file
  • which validation to run: AGS rules, BGS submission requirements or both
  • how you would prefer the results: HTML, plain text or JSON

You can then select and upload one or more AGS files (50 Mb maximum) for validation. To convert files, select and upload either AGS files (.ags) or MS Excel files (.xlsx) files and the other file type will be returned. There is an option to sort the output worksheets alphabetically, using the dictionary or using the AGS standard hierarchy, but doing this means the original group order will be lost.

Screenshot of the AGS3 validation tool.
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Validation map output. BGS © UKRI.

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AGS v3.x

We continue to host our legacy AGS validation tool for users who are creating or discovering AGS v3 files that they would like to submit to NGDC. This performs data checking against rules set out in the NGDC submission guidelines.

Open source

In line with UKRI, the BGS Digital Strategy and the wider Government Technology Code of Practice and Digital Service Standard, the source code for the AGS file utilities tool application is available under open license and hosted on the BGS GitHub.


If you have any feedback, or want to raise any feature requests or issues, please use the GitHub repository issues board.

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