A CDE Definition
standards - file management systems
In its simplest form, a data file uses fields of the same length for each item of data, for example, a plain EBCDIC or ASCII file would look like:
MN573 T-shirt Green 18.95
AY621 Blouse Blue 22.95
A common format stemming from the BASIC programming language is an ASCII comma separated values (CSV) file. The data above would look like this:
Both formats above are simple, contain only data (except for quotes and commas) and can be easily manipulated by a word processor. However, other types of data files may also contain special codes that identify the way the data are structured within the file. For example, variable length records require a code in each field indicating the size of the field.
Whether fixed or variable length fields, the data in non-DBMS systems is linked directly to the processing. The program must know the layout of the fields in each record, and it cannot accept records in a different format. In order to process a different file format, the program must be changed.
Incompatible file formats often exist within the same organization because they were developed separately. For example, one record may reserve 40 characters for name, while another holds only 30. As long as a file management system is used rather than a database management system (DBMS), the program that processes the first file structure would have to be changed to process the second. See standards.
Standards make up the most important issue in the computer field. As an unregulated industry, we have wound up with thousands of data formats and languages, but few standards that are universally used. This subject is as heated as politics and religion to vendors and industry planners. In order to truly understand this industry, it is essential to understand the categories for which standards are created.
No matter how much the industry talks about compatibility, new formats and languages appear routinely. The standards makers are always trying to cast a standard in concrete, while the innovators are trying to create a new one. Even when standards are created, they are violated as soon as one vendor adds a proprietary extension.
The FutureAfter 60 some years of computing, we have managed to create thousands of languages, formats and interfaces. While many become bona fide standards endorsed by recognized standards organizations such as ANSI and the IEEE, some of the most widely used are de facto standards. Intel and Microsoft products are the most obvious examples.
Although the Internet has helped immensely by creating global standards, we have already gone through several versions of software for rendering Web pages. Email demands new standards because 90% of it is spam.
As we forge ahead, there is a point where we can no longer cling to the old designs for compatibility. At that time, the new has to break from the past. The previous infrastructure only holds us back, no different than constructing a new building on top of a weak foundation. It seems to be the way of things. See standards bodies.
See standards - character codes.
See standards - communications & networking.
See standards - DBMSs.
See standards - file management systems.
See standards - graphics systems.
See standards - hardware interfaces.
See standards - Internet.
See standards - machine languages.
See standards - multimedia documents.
See standards - operating systems.
See standards - programming languages.
See standards - storage media.
See standards bodies.
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