Text files

More to think about

  • What is the smallest possible text file?
  • Are there any limits to how big a text file can be?
  • How does your computer know if a file is a text file or not?
  • What difference does it make if you use tabs or spaces to indent code?
  • Roughly how big is a text file that contains all the works of Shakespeare?
  • A large text file will often compress very efficiently (that is, it’s feasible to take a large file containing English prose and zip it to about 20% of its size) — why is text good for compression? (Or to put it another way: why are text files so inefficient?)
  • What’s the advantage of storing data in a text format if there are binary formats which are much more efficient?
  • SVG is an image file format that is a text file. Is it possible to store audio information in a text file?
  • What alternatives are there to UTF-8 encoding?
  • Is it possible to encrypt a plain text file such that it is still a text file?
  • Who decides what symbols are in Unicode?
  • What happens if you try to display a character that isn’t in the font you are using?
  • What character is ASCII code 0 (zero)? What is it used for?
  • The classic “hacker culture” editor war question: Which is best: emacs or vim?