What is a file?
When you use your computer to create things, those things are stored in units of information called files. A computer file can be a document you write with your word processor. A computer file can also be a graphical image from a digital camera or an image you create with a digital paintbrush, a piece of music, a video, or just about anything. Whatever it is, the computer stores that information as a file.
A file extension (or simply "extension") is the suffix at the end of a filename that indicates what type of file it is. For example, in the filename "myreport.txt," the .TXT is the file extension. It indicates the file is a text document. Some other examples include .DOCX, which is used for Microsoft Word documents, and .PSD, which is the standard file extension for Photoshop documents.
A file type is a name given to a specific kind of file. For example, a Microsoft Word document and an Adobe Photoshop document are two different file types. While these file types are associated with individual applications, other file types, such as rich text RTF files and MP3 audio files are standard file types that can be opened by multiple programs.
The terms "file type" and "file format" are often used interchangeably. However, a file format technically describes the structure and content of a file. For example, the file type of an image file saved using JPEG compression may be defined as a "JPEG image file." The file format might be described as a binary file that contains a file header, metadata, and compressed bitmap image data.
Each file type has one or more corresponding file extensions. For example, JPEG image files may be saved with a .JPG or .JPEG extension, while Adobe Photoshop image files are saved with a .PSD extension. The file extension appended to the end of each filename provides a simple way of identifying the file type of each file. File extensions are also used by the operating system to associate file types with specific programs. The relationships between file types and programs are called file associations and define what program opens each file type by default.
Most marketing and sales teams won’t have to worry at all about feed file formats. However, it can feel very confusing when surrounded by all these unusual file extensions and layouts. In the next slide you will find some of the most common product feed file formats. We’ll also look at where and how they’re used and what to expect when you open them up.
Next time you get a feed, you’ll have a much better idea of what’s inside!
Examples of Common File Extensions across different uses (fileinfo.com)
|.DOC||Microsoft Word Document|
|.TXT||Plain Text File|
|.CSV||Comma Separated Values File|
|.MP3||MP3 Audio File|
|.WAV||WAVE Audio File|
|.WMA||Windows Media Audio File|
|.AVI||Audio Video Interleave File|
|.MOV||Apple QuickTime Movie|
|.MP4||MPEG-4 Video File|
|.WMV||Windows Media Video File|
|Raster Image Files|
|.BMP||Bitmap Image File|
|.GIF||Graphical Interchange Format File|
|.PNG||Portable Network Graphic|
|.PSD||Adobe Photoshop Document|
|Vector Image Files|
|.AI||Adobe Illustrator File|
|.SVG||Scalable Vector Graphics File|
|Page Layout Files|
|Portable Document Format File|
|.CSS||Cascading Style Sheet|
|.HTML||Hypertext Markup Language File|
|.PHP||PHP Source Code File|
|.RSS||Rich Site Summary|
|.7Z||7-Zip Compressed File|
|.PKG||Mac OS X Installer Package|
|.RAR||WinRAR Compressed Archive|
|.TAR.GZ||Compressed Tarball File|
Most common data feed file formats
The format of a product data feed depends on the shop or product information management system that is being used by your company. However, the most common formats are .CSV and .XML .
Feed file formats
|TXT||Tab-Delimited Plain Text|
Extensible Markup Language
The following examples were generated with Convert Table to CSV - Table Convert Online.
Example Data Table
The following examples will show you how this data looks like in each format.
Comma-Separated Value as .csv files
Comma-Separated Value as .csv files with values wrapped in double quotes (escape characters)
CSV format with semi-colon delimiter (;) as .csv files
CSV format with pipe delimiter (|) as .csv files
Tab-Delimited Plain Text as .txt files
id name age gender
1 Roberta 39 M
2 Oliver 25 M
3 Shayna 18 F
4 Fechin 18 M
Extensible Markup Language as .xml files (unminified)
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
Extensible Markup Language as .xml files (minified)
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><customers><customer><id>1</id><name>Roberta</name><age>39</age><gender>M</gender></customer><customer><id>2</id><name>Oliver</name><age>25</age><gender>M</gender></customer><customer><id>3</id><name>Shayna</name><age>18</age><gender>F</gender></customer><customer><id>4</id><name>Fechin</name><age>18</age><gender>M</gender></customer></customers>
Excel data in Microsoft Excel as .xls files
Excel format is binary data and can contain complex things like images, formulas, styling, and so on. This format is rarely used for data feeds.
What is the difference between CSV and EXCEL file formats?
- In CSV file, as all the data is needed to be saved in plain text format, Image related (JPEG, PNG, JPG, etc.) data is not possible to save. While Excel is a binary format, hence all the Image related data can be easily saved in excel format.
- CSV is a plain text file, and hence, it is a common file without any standardization or structuring. While Excel is highly standardized and structured by keeping in mind the requirements of the present corporate world.
- CSV files can be open in any kind of text editor like notepad as well as in MS Excel, too, while excel can be opened only in the MS Excel or google sheets.
You might also see extensions like .zip or .gz, as some channels accept compressed files. Though compression is not usually required, there are some benefits to compressing feed files.
Compressed files can be imported and exported more quickly and they take up less space. For example, you can expect your compressed .gz file to take up some 5-10% of the space of a similar XML or CSV. That means you can save both bandwidth and time by using compressed files. Of course, once compressed, the file is no longer human-readable and will need to be uncompressed before it can be edited. However, this is not a big blocker and is generally easy to do successfully.
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