Recently I was working on an online directory for a large organization. I spent a lot of time with csv files. What is CSV? Is this something you will need? (You will have to read on to learn). As I finished that project, I decided to take time to revisit my lovely, somewhat neglected Websites for Small Biz blog to explain a bit about file formats. File formats are the little letters (or numbers, such as .mp4) after a file name that tells the computer what sort of file is being stored. A very basic file, for example, might be stored in a .txt file. So if you have a file in Microsoft Word and you don’t want to save all the MSWord commands and formatting, you could save the file as .txt, and it would get rid of the extra MSWord formatting. Hope you will stay with the post as I explain a few more file formats.
CSV: Comma-Separated Values. When is this valuable? Think Excel. In Excel, you have columns and rows of data. You might want to export these to a .csv so the data can be used by another system. In my case, I had a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, emails and job titles in an Excel spreadsheet. I “dumped” these into a .csv file (by doing Save As and choosing csv as the format), and then I imported the data into a Drupal website (I had already created a custom content type and an importer using Feeds – this post isn’t about Drupal, but for those who are Drupal curious, that is what I used). The data was then available for my directory (which I created using Views in Drupal). So if you have a business that works with data, just know that .csv may be a useful format for porting data from one system to another.
PHP: a server-side scripting language. If you are using WordPress, you are using PHP. You don’t have to learn PHP to use WordPress, of course. But now you know it is a programming language that runs all sorts of websites. If you look inside a .php file, you might find commands that look like this:
(the above opens the php code) and
?> (closes the php code). I use PHP to build websites - often, I am tweaking someone else's code in a child or custom theme to make the site unique for a particular business or organization.
JPG, PNG, GIF - those are all formats for web images. You should save a photograph as a .jpg. You should save a logo or a flat sort of artwork as .gif. A PNG and a GIF image both support transparency (part of the image can be transparent so you can see the background color - this can come in handy). A JPG does not support transparency. GIF is sometimes used for animation. Want to learn more? Read PNG vs. GIF vs. JPEG.
Your Turn, Please
Did you learn anything new? Is there a file format that you would like explained? Have you used any of the above formats?