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Help with File Formats

Last Updated: Friday, 09-Jan-2015 12:32:40 PST

You can also browse my website via Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS. There are some formats that require software other than a web browser, so you will have to deal with these file formats through plugins (other programs that run in your web browser).

What are File Formats?

A file format is generally marked by the letters after the last dot of the file name. There is not just one file format that puts any data into the format that has the best performance, features, editability, open specification, quality, and file size. There are good and bad aspects to each format. Often there are different formats that work better for text, graphics, video, sound, multimedia and page layout and many within each of those categories.

I spend a lot of time and effort thinking about and researching file formats to allow people to access my content without having to pay for or many times even download software. I also choose formats that are easy to view and support Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux at the least. I use many different formats to reach as many people as possible. Almost every part of my work is available in PDF/A-1A format which is tagged for accessibility and designed to be future proof as an option.

Open and Proprietary Formats

I use open formats whenever possible. There is no single requirement that makes a format open. Open formats generally have a specification that is freely available to create import and export filters for applications that view and edit in that format without any limitations like patents or monetary fees unless these are given away royalty free. The best way to see if a format is open is to see if there are open source viewers for that file format.

I often use proprietary formats like Quicktime, MP3, MP4 or Flash for audio and video because that is generally what people have installed. But every piece of content here is always available  in at least one open format. My multimedia is always available in an open format like Ogg.

Problems with Definitions of Open Formats

None of my files that can be freely distributed with several conditions can be converted into another file format. This is to protect my potential readers from having to pay money to access anything I have created.

If there was an easy way to explain what an open format is and there were not large corporations like Microsoft, Google, and Adobe who try to deceive people by claiming some of their file formats are open while still having restrictions on them and in the case of Microsoft, Google, and Adobe deliberately trying to sabotage compatibility with competitors products and open file formats, then I could theoretically allow any open format.

There are also other restrictions with some "open" file formats that might come about if other companies are able to collect royalties on use of the format if they can convince judges that the file format in question is infringing on their patents.

This is one of the main reasons why I have my texts available in so many formats and do not use any of the "newer" Microsoft, Google, and Adobe formats.

Google Started a New Format War

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