What Are Code, Programming File Formats

With many different file extensions and formats, it can be easy to get confused about which is which. There are different image file formats, audio file formats, etc. Although all of them contain codes readable by other applications and programs, they cannot be considered code files.

Code files are machine-readable files that contain text or binary information that is understandable by different Software Development Environments (SDEs). In simpler words, code files contain programming languages or information derived from programming languages, that are used to create programs and apps, and contain instructions and configuration settings for apps.

What is a Programming File

The type of file is defined by the file extension, which is a period followed by alphabets that come after the name of the file. A programming file has certain file extensions and contains a code, usually created by programming software, which can be of the following types:

  • Assemblers
  • Compilers
  • Debuggers
  • Interpreters

These are types of programming software where each performs a different function. Normally, software like Eclipse includes two or more of the features so that you can write, compile, and debug your codes just from one platform.

That said, you can open and edit code files using most text editors, including Notepad, but people prefer using a supported software to get the complete features and support for editing or viewing the code.

Moreover, programming or code files are created with such apps and services and saved with the appropriate file extension so they can be executed or used as required. The files are created using specific programming languages.

A programming language is a predefined system using which you, or a developer, can code and create functions and applications. There are many programming languages currently used in the world, and most of them need to be saved in a specific code file format to be used.

Let’s see what are the common types of code file formats and how can they be used.

Common Code, Programming File Formats


Download .BAT Sample Files

Programming Language: Batch script

A .BAT file, or a Batch file, contains a set of instructions that are executed in written order. These types of files can be used for any number of tasks that could be done using the Windows Command Line Interface (CLI), and other purposes. Programmers often use these files to automate tasks, especially those that are needed to be performed over and over.

Users can easily create batch files by saving one command per line in any text-editing software, like Notepad or Wordpad, and changing the extension of the file to “.bat.” Of course, the text file needs to start with “ECHO OFF” to be recognized as a batch file.

You can also edit any .BAT file by opening them in any text editor. Here is a list of editors as an example:


Download .C Sample Files

Programming Language: C, C++

A .C file may contain an entire source code, or only a part of it, in which case multiple .C files work together to perform a task. Developers usually open and edit such files in an SDE program or compiler, but can also be edited in any text editor, since the files are in plain text format.

Note that certain Unix operating systems use the “.c” (lowercase) extension for files having code in the C programming language, and “.C” (uppercase) for the C++ programming language.

The following apps can be used to open and edit .C code files:


Download .CLASS Sample Files

Programming Language: Java

A .CLASS file contains code in Java, and is created by a Java compiler. The code is stored as binary zeros and ones inside a CLASS file which is understood and executed by a Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

CLASS files are usually accompanied by an environmental variable $CLASSPATH inside a .JAR file for execution purposes.

A CLASS file needs to be compiled before its execution, which can be done using the “javac” cmdlet. However, since there are different versions of JVM available, some CLASS files may not be compatible with all JVMs.

Here is a list of programs that can handle .CLASS files:


Download .CPP Sample Files

Programming Language: C++

A CPP file contains source code in the C++ programming language. It supersedes the C programming language (saved in .C files) by adding more features, such as object-oriented programming.

A CPP file can contain code that can run an entire program or may have only a piece of the entire code needed for a program. Unlike the .C file format, a .CPP file first needs to be compiled using a C++ compiler, only then can it run the code.

Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, MYSQL, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Autodesk Maya are a few noteworthy programs that were entirely or partially created in the C++ language. Furthermore, here is a list of programs that can be used to open and edit .CPP code files:


Download .CS Sample Files

Programming Language: C#

A .CS file is used with .NET Framework and .NET to create both simple and complex applications.

Basic text editors like Microsoft Notepad++ and Apple TextEdit can open and edit CS files. However, because they do not support the syntax structure, plain text editors are not a good choice for editing these files. Therefore, it is recommended that you use source code editors with syntax highlighting features, such as Visual Studio, Visual C#, etc.

Here is a list of other apps you can use to open and edit .CS code files:


Download .CSS Sample Files

Programming Language: HTML, XML

A Cascading Style Sheet (.CSS) file defines the color, size, font, line spacing, borders, indentation, and the location of HTML elements on web pages. In short, a .CSS file contains the data needed to format a web page.

Selectors and declaration blocks are the main components of a CSS file. The HTML element to be styled is identified by the selector, and the declaration block is made up of one or more declarations that are separated by semicolons. The declarations include the names of the CSS properties, a colon, and the properties values.

CSS files are used by web designers and developers to give every webpage on a site a consistent look. CSS Files contain the display properties for several pages in a single file, therefore, they need less effort and HTML code.

Any website that includes a CSS file will be altered by its attributes.

Here is a list of apps and programs that can handle .CSS code files:


Download .GO Sample Files

Programming Language: Go

Go is a programming language created by Google in plain text, created using C as the base language. A .GO file is created when source code in the Go language is compiled and executed and can be edited using any text editor and some Integrated Development Environments (IDEs).

Here are some apps that support the .GO code file format:


Download .H Sample Files

Programming Language: C, C++, Objective-C

A .H code file is a header file written in C, C++, or Objective-C source code that usually contains constants, variables, and functions. Such files are used by other programs since they contain commonly-used functions and code that may be repeatedly required.

The definitions of macros that can be utilized by numerous source files are often stored in H header files together with the declarations of C functions. Note that although the .H files can store information in the C++ programming language, those are usually saved in the .HPP files.

The apps and editors that handle .H code files are listed below:


Download .HTACCESS Sample Files

Programming Language: Apache

An HTACCESS file, which is short for “HTTP Access,” contains instructions for different directories of an Apache Web Server as well as information about how and when the HTACCESS file should be used.

Such files do not contain a prefix before the dot and are usually placed in the root directory of a website. It is used to perform different functions, such as page redirects, denying access, defining a page’s index, etc.

Here is a list of apps and services you can use to open and edit .HTACCESS code files:


Download .HTML Sample Files

Programming Language: HTML

A .HTML file contains plain text that defines the format and layout of a web page. The information inside includes tags, text, labels, images, and hyperlinks. HTML files are frequently created and edited by web developers, then uploaded to web servers where they are parsed by web browsers when users access the webpages.

That said, other web technologies have been developed throughout time to improve websites, such as JavaScript and CSS, which you might find references to in modern HTML web pages.

The following list of apps supports opening and editing .HTML code files:


Download .JAVA Sample Files

Programming Language: Java

JAVA files contain source code written in the Java programming language. It uses “classes,” which are structured data types, to create objects at runtime.

A Java compiler is used to convert Java source code files into .CLASS files (discussed above). A CLASS file contains a bytecode that the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) can run.

The Java programming language is supported by most common SDEs. Here are a few examples:


Download .JS Sample Files

Programming Language: JavaScript

.JS files are used to add interactive and dynamic content to webpages and contain JavaScript code to execute commands. Functions that open and close windows, validate form fields, enable rollover pictures, or produce dropdown menus can all be found in a .JS code file.

A website developer can incorporate common or site-wide routines in each of a site’s web pages using the .JS files. The functions are simpler to maintain and troubleshoot when they are kept in a single, which can be easily imported and exported between websites.

If you’re looking to create or edit JavaScript code files, here are some applications that can be used:


Download .JSON Sample Files

Programming Language: ActionScript, C, C++, C#, Cold Fusion, Java, Lisp, Perl, Objective-C, OCAML, PHP, Python, Ruby

A .JSON usually contains code in JavaScript. However, it supports many programming languages and is programming-language independent.

A .JSON file contains plain text information which stores information to be used by applications and web servers. This is a standard format, which makes the data readable by most servers and apps. Since the information stored is in plain text format, .JSON files can be opened and edited using any text editor and are thus human-readable.

The JSON file format is commonly used in the Ajax application programming, gradually replacing the .XML file format. Although many programs employ JSON for data exchange, since the data exchange takes place across internet-connected machines, they might not save .JSON files on the local hard drive. Nevertheless, certain programs still allow users to save these files.

Here is a list of applications and programs that can handle .JSON code files:


Download .KML Sample Files

Programming Language: KML (based on XML)

A .KML file contains information in plain text about geographic modeling in the Keyhole Markup Language. The Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) format that is based on the .XML file format.

The information inside a .KML file can include points, placemarkers, images, lines, and even polygons. These files are primarily used to categorize and label locations, develop various camera perspectives, apply texture overlays, and incorporate HTML information.

Over time, the KML format evolved into a universally accepted format for geographic annotation and visualization in 2D and 3D global mapping applications. The Google Earth online application and Google Earth Pro desktop program are the main applications that use KML files. Other various mapping programs also support the KML file format, like ESRI ArcGIS Pro and Blue Marble Geographics Global Mapper.

Since such files are in plain text, anyone can edit or create them using any text editor. To create them using Google Earth, click the “Projects” icon in the left pane, click “Create,” and then click “Create KML file.”

The following list of apps and services can be used to open KML code files:


Download .PHP Sample Files

Programming Language: PHP

A .PHP file typically consists of text, HTML tags, and code as per its syntax. It has the source code written in plain text in the PHP programming language, which is a server-side language. This means that the code inside a .PHP file is executed on the server.

Such files are normally employed by web designers when making new or changing existing PHP files to build websites with enhanced functionality. However, regular users can use any web browser to download PHP files from a webpage.

A PHP engine on the web server processes the PHP code contained in the webpage to produce HTML dynamically. The user’s web browser receives the HTML data, which comprises the webpage content. As a result, even when browsing the page source, the viewer never sees the actual PHP code that runs the website.

Since PHP is a known programming language a file format, here is a long list of apps that support this code file:


Download .PL Sample Files

Programming Language: Perl

A .PL files contain the Perl scripting language which is executed only by using a Perl interpreter. A .PL file is mostly used by developers for web server CGI scripting, application GUI development, and system administration. But on top of these, the Perl scripting language can be conveniently used for parsing text, which is why it is also commonly used to search through text.

You can normally find information like variables, operations, comments, and functions inside a .PL file, but because of the language’s compact nature, some users may find the contents of a .PL difficult to understand.

Regular text editors can be used to create and edit .PL files, but it may not be ideal since they do not provide syntax highlighting, whereas more complex source code editors like Visual Studio Code are easier to use whilst creating/editing .PL files.

The following programs can be used to open PL files:


Download .PY Sample Files

Programming Language: Python

A .PY file contains source code written in the open-source Python programming language, which is an object-oriented language.

PY files are usually used by developers to program web servers and administrative computers. Although a .PY file can be created and edited using any text editor, it cannot run without a Python interpreter, which can be found in a variety of source code editors.

Here is a list of apps that can be used to open and edit .PY code files:


Download .RB Sample Files

Programming Language: Ruby

A .RB file contains source code for software written in Ruby, which is an object-oriented programming language. Since the language is in plain text, a .RB file can be created and edited using any text editor.

There are different versions of the Ruby language available, known as “Gems.” Some of these Gems include “Ruby on Rails,” “Mongrel,” and “Capistrano.”

The following apps can be used to open .RB code files:


Download .SH Sample Files

Programming Language: Bash

An .SH file contains commands written in the Bash scripting language. Since Bash is widely used on Unix-based operating systems, so are the .SH files. It can be used to carry out instructions by entering text commands in the Command Line Interface (CLI) of the shell.

A .SH file can also be used to save and store scripts for other shell applications.

Here is a list of the programs that can be used to open and edit .SH code files:


Download .SQL Sample Files

Programming Language: Structured Query Language (SQL)

An SQL file contains code that is used to access or modify databases. Since the SQL language itself is used to create and manage databases, a .SQL file typically stores information that can modify the table or the data inside the table in a database. Other functions that you might see inside a .SQL file are for creating and modifying structures, updates, insertions, deletions, and a few other SQL operations.

To access a .SQL file, you will need to use a SQL-compatible database program, such as MySQL. Several source code editors can also be used to access and modify .SQL files, such as the following:


Download .SWIFT Sample Files

Programming Language: Swift

A .SWIFT file contains source code for an application written in the Swift programming language. This language was created by Apple with iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, making it more like a scripting language, which in turn made programming easier for the developers.

The Swift programming language offers features like integration with existing Cocoa frameworks and automatic memory management. Similar functions can be found inside a .SWFT file.

Since it is Apple’s proprietary programming language, a .SWIFT file cannot be accessed on a Windows platform.

Here are a handful of applications that can be used to open .SWIFT code files:


Download .VB Sample Files

Programming Language: Visual Basic

A .VB file is part of a larger project which contains object-oriented code written in the Visual Basic language, which is to be used with .NET and .NET Framework. The content inside a .VB file is in ASCII text format.

Visual Basic was developed by Microsoft and implemented on the .NET Framework (VB.NET). Apps built on the .NET platform, such as web applications and XML web services, are developed using the VB.NET programming language. Only “.VB” is now used by Microsoft Visual Studio since Microsoft dropped the “.NET” in the name in 2005.

Here is a list of programs to open and edit .VB code files:


Download .YAML Sample Files

Programming Language: Perl, C#, Ruby, XML, HTML

A .YAML file contains the information for a program’s settings, written in plain text. In other words, the file is used for data serialization. YAML stands for “YAML Ain’t Markup Language,” but it originally stood for “Yet Another Markup Language.” The abbreviation for YAML evolved over the years as the YAML format evolved with each iteration. A YAML file can also be saved with a “.YML” extension.

The YAML format is usually used for reading and writing information independent of any specific programming language, which is why it can be referenced and included within any programs that support YAML libraries, such as Perl, C#, Ruby, etc.

Since the .YAML file is in plain text, users can edit the settings of the associated program simply by modifying the .YAML file with any text or source code editor.

The following apps can be used to open and edit .YAML code files:

Closing Words

Code files have structured file formats just like all other types of file formats. Some contain code in plain text, whilst others contain information in ASCII or binary after being translated from another programming language.

As you can learn from the many programming file formats above, each of them is used for a different purpose. While some provide information for a web page, others provide information for its styling. There are many examples and purposes of code files. Some of them are;t even written in this post, but we are working to update them as we learn more.

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