CSV, JPG, PHP – File Formats Fun

format files php csv jpg

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 in metallic text effect

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 watercolor effect

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?

33 Responses to “CSV, JPG, PHP – File Formats Fun”

  1. Arleen says:

    Leora- You did an excellent explaining these file formats. It is a good idea for everyone to understand this even if they use a web developer for their site. I use PHP instead of asp, I read that .asp files can be infected by malware.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      I did once have a conversation with a web host professional who discouraged use of .asp. But any site can be infected with malware – there just needs to be holes in the code. WordPress is built with PHP, as is Drupal, so those two major content management systems already chose for you.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Arleen. I haven’t had a lot of time to write up posts, so I decided to write about a most recent project (without going into much detail at all).

  2. Catarina says:

    Truly with I had your technical skills, Leora. And it seems you are technical as well, Arleen.

    Use .jpg all the time and know what the others are but have to humbly admit that I don’t use them:-)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      I don’t use .csv files much, but last month’s assignment I had the pleasure of lots of data manipulation. Strangely enough, I enjoyed that project! I can’t say I enjoy working on networking a lot, and your most recent video posting reminded me of its importance.

  3. Susan Cooper says:

    That was interesting. I am aware of the difference between jpg, png and gif because of my image creation and need to save them in different formats. the other a rimes and what they mean and potential uses was good to know.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Susan, it’s good you know about the image formats. Anyone who has used a digital camera uses a jpg, but they may not know much about why an image would be jpg over gif (or vice versa).

      I was so involved with the csv files last week that it was on mind so the post came easily. I suppose as I continue to be busy with work that’s how the posts will come – as an outcome of a project in which I am working, and I will try to make some aspect of the project accessible to those with less technical knowledge.

  4. Susan Oakes says:

    I had heard of CSV Leora but didn’t know what it meant, although I have transferred files such as Google analytics to excel.

    I do use the different image file formats as I learned a while ago what images are best used with each format.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      csv is one of things that if you have a need for it, it is great that it exists. But if you aren’t dealing with data, then it isn’t a concern.

      Almost anyone who posts online deals somewhat with online images. So knowing about those is quite important.

  5. Jeevan Jacob John says:

    Thanks for the guide, Leora :)

    I am familiar with most of these – thanks to my computer classes (both in high school and in college). But, I do thank you for reminding me all this stuff – if you don’t use it, you lose it ;) I certainly don’t want to forget things like this.

    I use PNG for most of my images – I think it is a middle ground, not too big and yet conserves the quality of the image (unlike JPG).

    Anyways, thank you for the guide! Appreciate it :)

  6. I’ve been using cvs files for years. I download/upload to my financial software using the format. But the PHP is still confusing to me! Sometimes I feel like my head is about to explode! LOL So I appreciate your bringing more clarity to the file types.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Jacqueline, I’m sorry you feel like your head will explode when you look at PHP. I would feel that way looking at Chinese. But since I’ve studied programming, it is easy for me to understand PHP. You can either accept that you can’t read a programming language, or you can learn some basic programming. Is it worth your time? Only you can answer that question.

  7. Adrienne says:

    Ah, great job Leora!

    So that’s what CSV means… I hate it when I export something and they keep asking me if I want to save it in that file format or excel. I never understood what that meant. Duh, I feel so stupid right now like I should have known. Obviously I never needed it so all is good I suppose.

    Now the others I am familiar with. Do I know coding? Well not really, some basic HTML but I can do a little bit with images and I know the different file formats. I have learned a few things over the years. ;-)

    Wow, I appreciate this explanation. Great job my friend and thanks.

    Have an awesome week now.


    • Leora Wenger says:

      Adrienne, why should you know CSV? You don’t work with a lot of data as part of your job. But now you do have an idea, so when it comes up in conversation, it will mean something to you.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  8. Joanne says:

    Thanks for the laymen’s version of the different file types used on the web. Usually I’m looking for a general answer. Can’t tell you how many times I look up a definition and I get a long and complicated answer. This was clear and you hit the highlights of why it’s important to me. Thanks again.

  9. Diana says:

    Thanks for another useful post, Leora!

    As much as i dislike excel, i gotta say that CSV is a very popular format for all kind of data – even my Market Samurai (keywords research and rank tracking tool) exports reports in CSV – so i know.

    What i din’t know though is that excel and CSV is not one and the same thing. I mean, while excel can be, then CSV can be a lot more things than excel. LOL – i have always wondered why all CSV files are so “badly formatted”; why i can have such a beautiful excel table and none of the reports from my software were as beautiful… now i know – so thank you :D

  10. I have to confess, Leora, that you lost me at “What is a CVS file?” It’s too much for my brain to absorb. That’ why I have a webmaster!

  11. I knew most of the extensions and use them often, except for CSV, but glad to know about it. I can think of a number of occasions when knowing that would have saved me or those around me a fair bit of time. :)

  12. It’s funny that you posted this because I was just trying to learn what some of these formats do. I want to learn how to make an animated gif as well.

  13. Jeri says:

    I did not know that JPG files did not support transparency. Now I can keep that in mind when I find the time to make more pictures of images with quotes.

  14. That is awesone, Leora! You are like an artist, combining together some things that normally don’t go together and making a nice composition of it and it works perfectly (php, cvs and jpg ).

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Oksana, thank you for noticing how I combined the three. I especially liked the jpg image – I can write a bit in a future post how I did that one. I read (and try out) a lot of posts on text effects.

  15. Cheryl says:

    Love this! Easy to understand language for those who are not technical. :)

  16. Great explanations Leora! I’m a huge fan of the CSV file format. It’s so useful when you’re analyzing data. Lot of times, programs like Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics will give you the option to download the “raw” data. Then, it’s a snap to bring it into Excel and play with it.

  17. Becc says:

    I definitely did learn something new. I had never really thought much about the letters at the end of the file. It is great to learn about these things.

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