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Definition: data conversion


Data conversion means changing the data in one file format to another format. Known as "exporting," applications may be able to save their data to more than one file format and thus do the data conversion automatically. However, there are many stand-alone data conversion programs that support a wide variety of formats.

A Neutral Format
If an application cannot export to the desired format the user needs, it may be able to export to a neutral format such as regular text (export to ASCII text) or text fields separated by commas (see CSV). However, in these cases, page formats and macros are lost in the conversion.

If there is no export function or stand-alone conversion program available, the only recourse is to have a custom conversion program written from scratch. If the format is rare, there may be no written documentation available, and custom conversion may be tedious and expensive. See ASCII file and conversion.




Save As Formats
Microsoft Word can save documents in various formats as in this example. Notice the Plain Text option.






A Conversion Program
This earlier DataViz conversion program supported many file formats. This example converted a Word Perfect document (.wpd) to Word (.doc) by highlighting source and destination formats and clicking Convert. Conversion programs carry forward all layout settings as long as the target format supports the same feature.






Custom Programs Are Often the Only Way
This encyclopedia is written in XyWrite III Plus, a 1990s DOS word processor. Years ago, author Alan Freedman wrote two console programs in C to convert the XyWrite files first to a base XML format and then to the target format for the website and licensees. The two C programs total more than 3,000 lines of custom code. See console app and C.