Binary file


All of the file data in Microsoft Office binary file formats exists in one or more streams. Each stream contains data structures to store metadata, such as user and system information and file properties, formatting information, text content, and media content.

These data structures are expressed as groups of hexadecimal numbers that the host program interprets and presents through its user interface. Meanwhile, the organization of data structures varies within a stream. The most common unit of data is a record. A record typically contains some metadata about the file in the form of fields and flags. This includes one or more offset values to indicate the locations of other relevant records or other data.

Images can be stored as pointers to external files or as embedded images in their own binary file formats, such as.

More active content, such as PowerPoint slide transitions, are marked with the information that is needed for interpretation, such as the transition properties, and then rendered by the host program.

Microsoft Office File Format Documents. From there, you can open the full specification for the file format, either directly on the MSDN site or as a. The recommended way to perform most programming tasks in Microsoft Office is to use the Office Primary Interop Assemblies. These are a set of. NET classes that provide a complete object model for working with Microsoft Office.

This article series deals only with advanced scenarios, such as where Microsoft Office is not installed. The following table shows the binary file format files that apply to specific versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Microsoft Office binary file format—based files are also used by companies that work with Microsoft Office files without using the original host application. Some of the more common uses outside Microsoft include custom cross-document search tools, data recovery from damaged files, or reading and writing for compatibility with other applications.

By far the easiest way to view a Microsoft Office binary file is with the host program that created it. For example, by using Word to view a.

That approach shows the user view of the content, such as text, formatting, and general state of the user interface. You can get a more structural picture of a binary file by using the Office Visualizer Tool, offvis. The following link allows you to directly download this tool from the Download Center: The navigation pane shows the raw file contents, with each row showing current offset, a chain of hexadecimal numbers, and their text representation if any.

The results pane shows the parsing results that consist of the name of the current data structure, its value, offset location, size, and type. The following screen shot shows part of a. The letter "w" is selected. This causes the visualizer to highlight the corresponding hexadecimal number and data structure. You can create a custom viewer, which you can use to target specific content, or as a way to become familiar with the file format.

Your viewer has to read the data stream, interpret the structures in it, and navigate the offsets to find the text and whatever other content that you want to show. These data structures are different for each file type, but in every case, the process is similar. In the first structure, find the offset value that specifies the location of the next section that you are looking for.

Compiled computer programs are typical examples; indeed, compiled applications are sometimes referred to, particularly by programmers, as binaries. But binary files can also mean that they contain images, sounds, compressed versions of other files, etc. Some binary files contain headers , blocks of metadata used by a computer program to interpret the data in the file. The header often contains a signature or magic number which can identify the format.

For example, a GIF file can contain multiple images, and headers are used to identify and describe each block of image data. If a binary file does not contain any headers, it may be called a flat binary file. To send binary files through certain systems such as email that do not allow all data values, they are often translated into a plain text representation using, for example, Base The increased size may be countered by lower-level link compression, as the resulting text data will have about as much less entropy as it has increased size, so the actual data transferred in this scenario would likely be very close to the size of the original binary data.

See Binary-to-text encoding for more on this subject. A hex editor or viewer may be used to view file data as a sequence of hexadecimal or decimal, binary or ASCII character values for corresponding bytes of a binary file.

If a binary file is opened in a text editor , each group of eight bits will typically be translated as a single character, and the user will see a probably unintelligible display of textual characters. If the file is opened in some other application, that application will have its own use for each byte: Other type of viewers called 'word extractors' simply replace the unprintable characters with spaces revealing only the human-readable text.

This type of view is useful for quick inspection of a binary file in order to find passwords in games, find hidden text in non-text files and recover corrupted documents. If the file is itself treated as an executable and run, then the operating system will attempt to interpret the file as a series of instructions in its machine language.

Programmers often talk about an executable program as a "binary" and will ask another programmer to "send me the binaries. A binary file could also contain data ready to be used by a program. In terms of transmitting files from one place to another, a file can be transmitted as a "binary," meaning that the programs handling it don't attempt to look within it or change it, but just pass it along as a "chunk of 0s and 1s," the meaning of which is unknown to any network device.

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