flat file

A single file containing flat ASCII representing or encoding some structure, e.g. a database, tree or network.

Flat files can be processed with general purpose tools such as Perl and text editors but are less efficient than binary files 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]