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flat file

<operating system, storage> A single file containing flat ASCII representing or encoding some structure, e.g. of a database, tree, or network. Flat files can be processed with general purpose tools (e.g. awk or Perl) and text editors but are often less efficient than some kind of binary file if they must be parsed repeatedly by a program. Flat files are more portable between different operating systems and application programs than binary files, and are more easily transmitted in electronic mail.

See also flatten, sharchive.

[Jargon File]

(1996-01-26)


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