Binary versus ASCII (Plain Text) Files, and converting them

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At heart all files are binary files -- that is, a collection of 1s and 0s. A plain text file contains no formatting codes whatsoever, no fonts, bold, italics or underlines, headers, footers or graphics.

The only 'formatting' that can be applied is to use spaces to pad lines out so that they are centered or right justified, or to add extra blank lines.

Let's look at some example - different file types containing the word 'hello' followed by a new line. To see the differences, we will use a hex display, to show us exactly what is in each file, and highlight the word hello in the output so we can see where it appears. A hex display shows us the offset, ASCII code and the actual characters contained in a file where those characters are printable - it shows a period where they are search and replace text within text and binary file. You can see that an RTF file includes lots of extra guff.

Generally, all the letters of the word will be together. However, if you have two or more words, other codes can appear between the words, making them difficult to locate.

The file below, even without any formatting, is huge, so we've removed large sections of it for clarity. A major point we have to make here is that Word relies on the exact position of various aspects of the file being fixed, such as font tables, symbol tables and other internal references. If these positions are changed e. Recovery may not be possible. An additional point to note is that the word 'Symbol' is stored in the Word document in Unicode format see belowso a text editor or text tool will not find it.

Since this file contains mixed sections of ASCII and Unicode, it is crucial that the file positions are left unchanged. ASCII is being replaced in many applications by Unicodewhich uses 16 bits 2 bytes per character to represent non-Roman alphabets like Japanese, Chinese, and Cyrillic. A text editor or text tool won't find 'hello' in this file. Now, to convert a binary file to a useful text form, you need to strip out all the binary characters - the formatting, control and other gobbledygook stuff.

Plain Text File - hello. Search and replace text within text and binary file Word Document - hello. Unicode Plain Text File - hello. Convert binary files to text files Now, to convert a binary file search and replace text within text and binary file a useful text form, you need to strip out all the binary characters - the formatting, control and other gobbledygook stuff.

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The tech resource your business needs. Select all Open in new window. Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question. We will never share this with anyone. By clicking you are agreeing to Experts Exchange's Terms of Use. Expand your skills with this month's free Premium course. View April's Free Course. I need a solution. I'm trying to do a find and replace in a binary file Excel, Word, Access. NET is pretty restrictive with file types.

The Replace function doesn't work with binary files. Sign up today x. Attached is a example class. Another thing is you can find and replace text is to use Word, Excel, or Access automation.

The formats of the new version of Office Zip up the contents internally, which means your current binary-as-text method won't work anymore. Question has a verified solution. Sign up with Google. Sign up with LinkedIn.

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