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SWC files (file extension of .swc) are text-based (ASCII text) files that describe three-dimensional neuronal or glial morphology. These digital reconstructions represent morphology as a vectorized tree structure, made of a series of connected nodes. An SWC file contains a series of text-based rows where each neuron node is described by a single row of only seven space-separated values. The format is simple and intuitive; a parser of or writer to the format could be implemented by anyone with knowledge of any programming language.



Similar Standards:

MBF File Format 4.0, Amira, Neurolucida ASCII, SNT


Cannon, R.C., Turner, D.A., Pyapali, G.K., Wheal, H. V., 1998. An on-line archive of reconstructed hippocampal neurons. J. Neurosci. Methods 84, 49–54.   
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Nanda, S., Chen, H., Das, R., Bhattacharjee, S., Cuntz, H., Torben-Nielsen, B., Peng, H., Cox, D.N., De Schutter, E., Ascoli, G.A., 2018. Design and implementation of multi-signal and time-varying neural reconstructions. Sci. Data 5, 170207.  
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Commentaries on endorsed standards

Supporting software

Supporting Software

Usage scenario
  • Comparative morphometric analyses Read the article 
  • Electrophysiological simulations Read the article 
  • Large-scale biophysically-detailed modeling Read the article 
  • Algorithmic generation of virtual neurons Article 1 , Article 2 
  • SWC reconstructions have also been extended to produce multi-signal neural reconstructions, as well as dynamic time-varying neural reconstructions Read the article.
  • While SWC reconstructions were primarily invented to digitally describe neural morphology, this system can also be seamlessly adopted to describe any arbor-like structure such as angiographic data (e.g.,