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Discussion on: The difference between "binary" and "text" files

jones1618 profile image
Stephen Jones • Edited on

It's a good, informative article but most people have no clue what a "Unicode code point" is. Instead, I'd make the following distinction:

  • A text file consists of plain, unformatted words, letters and punctuation intended to be readable by humans. In a text file, every 8- or 16-bit "code" corresponds with exactly one letter, number or punctuation mark.

  • A binary file consists of complex structured data meant primarily to be read by applications that translate those structures into something useful by humans (pictures, audio, video, richly formatted text, etc).

Still, I imagine that 99% of computer users these days (except developers) never deal with text files directly. Almost all content people care about live in binary files. The exceptions to that rule are some office documents in XML or RTF format that, while technically might be text documents, are so densely coded and packed with syntax that they might as well be considered binary.

sharkdp profile image
David Peter Author

Thank you for the feedback. See answers on Reddit: