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4. Tinkering Techniques > 4.3. File Types: The Link Between Documents and Appli...

File Types: The Link Between Documents and Applications

The term file types describes the collection of associations between documents and the applications that use them. The most apparent use of this feature is that, for example, Windows knows to run Notepad when you double-click on a text document in Explorer (proof that Windows XP is not truly object oriented).

True object-oriented design dictates that objects (in this case, files and folders) be aware of their own traits. This design is only mimicked in Windows XP. Instead of each file knowing which application is used to edit it, Windows determines how to handle a file based solely on the filename extension. This design has advantages and disadvantages, but Microsoft’s decision to hide filename extensions, the basis for file associations, only makes the whole system more difficult to understand and master.


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