You have my support Marty, if we can get something finalized, I'll be happy to add conversion support for it. JDG, I like your ideas, it's as if you've been reading my mind
A netlist would be better, but, it would be such a nightmare to write all of those up. The major advantage to using a netlist (IMO) is that it would simplify the emulator in the respect that it would only need to emulate the various components and leave the connection details to the container format. I can't even count in my head how many boards use a 74/161 but connected in different ways. Anyways, I just can't see the amount of work required being done.
Regarding the "confirmed" and "virtual" board names, that's pretty much how I've been trying to handle the names in the db, with the UNIF version being the virtual name. I could use some help coming up with some standardized names though :| For example, Jaleco's PCBs are usually named using the games catalog ID, but many of them use the same board but still have the unique name. So I try to use something for the UNIF name that can be shared between them, but the results are not always pretty. For example I just did one last night, JF-19, which currently is assigned JALECO-74*08/32/161/174/174, bleh :|
I don't really like the idea of appending the XML to the end of an iNES file though. I'd rather see it in a zip along with one file per ROM. Having stuff in a zip keeps it open to being able to put other things in as well such as those ADPCM speech synth ROMs, should they ever get dumped or just the recordings of them like we have now.