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Binary versus Text

Hi Folks,


Distinguishing "text" versus "binary" is important.


On October 30 we had a discussion titled, "Is the binary file format dead?"


During that discussion John Cowan made an excellent distinction between binary and text files. I thought it would be useful to summarize the distinction.


The universe of computer files falls into two categories:


1. Binary files

2. Text files


By convention we normally restrict "binary" to files which are not interpretable as streams of characters. [John Cowan]


The word "text" is applied to files which are interpretable as streams of characters.


Of course any text file is also a binary file, since the class of text files is obtained from the class of binary files by applying restrictions. But it would be confusing to call a text file a binary file; it would be like calling a cat a mammal: correct but imprecise.




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