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Flat-File Data Sources

Flat file is a generic term that refers to a file containing data in row-and-column format. If you think of a spreadsheet that holds data about personal contacts, the spreadsheet will have some number of columns, for attributes such as first name, last name, address, and so forth, and some number of rows, each one representing a single contact.

The formats of flat files can vary. Some might separate one column from the next by tabs, and one row from the next by carriage returns (a tab-delimited file). Another might use commas to separate column values. Some might include a first row that gives a name to each column, whereas others might not. Some might be in a plain text format that you could read with any text editor, whereas others might be in specialized file formats (such as FileMaker Pro or Microsoft Excel). In general, though, all flat-file data sources represent some variation on the idea of row-and-column data.


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