Text files

Why text files?

The text file is an extraordinarily versatile file format. It is accessible to both humans and computers:

  • text files are human-readable
  • reading and writing text files is straightforward in most programming languages
  • the differences between text files can be meaningful
  • …this means changes in text files can be managed too (version control)
  • you can use the same tools on them (editors, searching, transforming)
  • they can be useful for transferring content between applications (for example, when exporting data out of an application so it can be read by another)
  • the position of any character within a text file can be addressed (line:column)

Text files are so ubiquitous you must be familiar with how to work with them. In particular, this means developing good text editing skills.