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2.7. Property Lists

Everywhere you look, it seems that Mac OS X is making use of XML property lists (more commonly referred to as plists because of their .plist file extension). These files provide a structured, text-based approach to storing, organizing, and recovering many kinds of application data. As Apple points out, XML files have many advantages. They are text-based, so they are easily read by people, and they use a well-defined standard, so their creation and access are very reliable. Some XML experts, however, feel that Apple's use of XML is a bit messed up. Regardless, plists provide a flexible and easy-to-understand format.

The Finder uses plists to store file and directory attributes. Applications use plists to store defaults, preferences, script suites, localization specifics, and more. For example, Address Book uses property lists to store its defaults (shown in Example 2-1), label layout specs, alphabetical listing templates, and paper sizes. Each of these plists appears in addition to the standard Info.plist and version.plist files.


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