The need to import [import: A good or service which enters a country. ] and export [export: to export a file from an application in a file format that can be read by another application or applications ] data files has led to the development of several standard file types that many applications [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ] can understand. Examples are jpg and gif files for images, and mp3 files for sound; but there are also standard file types for text, movies, and spreadsheet [spreadsheet: A spreadsheet is made up of cells, rows and columns. Each cell holds a piece of numeric (numbers) or alphanumeric (text) data. Cells can also contain formulae to calculate their contents. ] data.
Often an application of a different type can import data, for example, a word processor [word processor: an application used to write, edit and format text ] may be able to import a spreadsheet file.
Recently program [program: a list of instructions written in a programming language ] developers have started to use the XML [Extensible Markup Language (XML): a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages ] web [web: includes all of the web pages accessible via the Internet ] page file format as the standard way to store data, for example, the new Microsoft Office suite makes use of XML. RSS [Really Simple Syndication (RSS): a method for delivering website updates to a user without the user having to visit the website itself ] feeds on the Internet [Internet: a global network connecting millions of computers ] also make use of this format. Such files can be read by any browser [web browser: an application used to browse the Internet or view web pages ] on any computer, making it very easy to transfer data between computers.
Other standard file types, such as zip [zip: a file format that takes an existing file or files and compresses them into a single file that's a smaller size ] and pdf [Portable Document Format (PDF): a file format developed by Adobe in an effort to standardise the way documents were shared ], have been developed as ways of distributing data in the most efficient way possible. They do this by compressing it using zip technology or making it possible to read using a freely available downloaded [download: the transfer of a file or files from one computer connected to the Internet to another ] reader application, as is the case with PDF files.
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