Beginners Web Guide: File Formats (Re-post)

You might say there’s a general lack of standards on the internet. Or you could say there’s too many. Various software companies jealously guard the secrets and intellectual property invested in their programs and file formats.

Here’s a brief overview of what’s in use and what you need to open them…

There are a number of different file formats used on the web, these include:

  • Text Format
  • Adobe Portable Document Format – pdf
  • Rich Text Format – rtf
  • Word Documents – doc, docx

Multimedia

  • Windows Media Audio – wma
  • Windows Media Video – wmv
  • MP3 – mp3
  • Shockwave Flash – swf
  • Flashplayer – flv

Spreadsheet

  • Excel – xls

Presentation

  • PowerPoint – ppt

Graphic Design

  • Design Web Format – dwf

Archive

  • Zip – zip

Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf)

One answer to the standards problem is to ‘print’ files and distribute them in a common format which can be read on any machine on any platform that can use the standard ‘document reader’ program.

The answer that Adobe Corp. came up with is ‘Portable Document Format’ or PDF.

PDF files are used for viewing, printing and presenting text, scanned information, images and forms.

To view a PDF file, you will need to have either Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Adobe Reader free of charge from the Adobe website.

ImageGet Adobe Reader


Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Rich Text Formats are an alternative to Microsoft Word documents and PDF files for displaying textual information.

To view an RTF file you can use any textual viewer including, Microsoft Word, Wordpad or Notepad. If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Microsoft Word Viewer free of charge from the Microsoft Website.

ImageGet Microsoft Word Viewer


Word (.doc) Documents

Word documents are used for displaying textual information, pictures, tables, graphs, mail merges, and HTML..

To view a Microsoft Word file, you need to have Microsoft Word or Word Viewer installed on the computer. If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Microsoft Word Viewer free of charge from the Microsoft Website.

Image Get Microsoft Word Viewer


Excel (.xls)

Excel files are used for displaying data in workbooks, worksheets, tables, forms, maps, lists, charts/graphs and statistical data.

To view a Microsoft Excel file, you need to have Microsoft Excel or Excel Viewer installed on the computer. If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Microsoft Excel Viewer free of charge from the Microsoft Website.

Image Get Microsoft Excel Viewer

PowerPoint (.ppt)

PowerPoint files are used for displaying slides, note pages, handouts, presentations and electronic slideshows.

To view a PowerPoint file you must have Microsoft PowerPoint installed on your computer.  If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer free of charge from the Microsoft Website.

Image Get Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer


Design Web Format (.dwf)

Autodesk Design Web Format files are used for communicating design information to anyone needing to view, review, or print designs.

To view a DWF File, you need to have the Autodesk software or Viewer installed on the computer. If you do not have the necessary software installed, you can download Autodesk DWF Viewer free of charge from the Autodesk website.

Image Get Autodesk DWF Viewer


Zip (.zip)

Zip files are used to store files together as well as compressing the size of the files.
To extract files from a Zip file you need to have a copy of WinZip. To download a free copy of WinZip please use the link below.

ImageGet WinZip

Shockwave Flash (.swf)

Shockwave Flash files are used to deliver graphics, animation and sound over the Internet.
To be able to play a .swf file you may need to download the Macromedia Flash player.
Macromedia Flash Player is pre-installed in most Web browsers and on most computers, e.g. Windows 98, Windows XP and Netscape Navigator.

Image Get Flash Player


Windows Media Video (.wmv)

Windows Media Video files allow the playing of video files with sound such as music videos, short films and adverts.  These files can be played by players such as MPlayer or Windows Media Player, the latter being only available for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh systems.

Image Get Windows Media Player


Windows Media Audio (.wma)

Windows Media Audio files allow the playing of sound files such as music, audio books and narration.  Apart from Windows Media Player, WMA files can be played using MPlayer, Winamp (with certain limitations), RealPlayer, and many other media players.

Get Windows Media Player


MP3 (.mp3)

MP3 files allow the playing of sound files such as music, audio books and narration.  MP3 is a popular digital audio format designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent audio.  There are many different MP3 players available, either software for personal computers or portable media players.  See Windows Media Player download above.

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