In Physics we have dealt with dimensions and physical quantities. Don’t worry, if you haven’t, we aren’t going any crazy to repeat the same again. Just need to go through few similarities to understand the concept. You have come across regular multimedia usage in your mobile, laptop or PC numerous times. Very often you have noticed a video, image or audio file like ‘mario.mp4’ or ‘mario.mkv’. They are actually in format <file name>.<file extension>. File extensions actually represent the file format.
Computer Science comprises of all these extensions into work. Here, we can term or relate category of file(or file type) as dimension. Like video, image, audio, compressed/compiled file or encrypted file etc. Now all video files aren’t of same extension. In old mobiles you will see 3GP, in PCs, mobiles mp4, mkv, avi, wmv etc are common. These all contain a video but in different *codec. In images too we use jpg, png, gif etc or sometimes NEF, DNG too if you have DSLR or equivalent exporter. Extensions here are similar to physical quantities representing their file type(dimension) like image, video etc.
How useful are they?
Every digital format known is useful in their own branch. JPG, PNGs are useful in social platforms for sharing. Whereas, NEF, DNG play wide role in editing. This is because in case of image, jpg, png are compressed formats consuming less space. They come as handy to share. NEF, DNG etc. are heavy RAW file formats designed for editing and modifications. Every software can’t read them hence respective codec are necessary to decode. In video mkv, mp4, mpg is generally suitable for sharing. Other way, RAWs like MOV, AVI are best post processing competents.
NOTE: Similar file extensions may not represent the same file category. E.g. ‘.apk‘ is famous file extension of android package. However, Microsoft owned train simulator game has ‘.apk‘ as their accelerated graphics package. Both of these have different content respectively and are not cross platform compatible. Having no regulations been made or implemented in this regard, congruence in extensions are considered coincidental.
Music lovers may always prefer or are used to mp3 formats. However, they are now old and a new format .aac(Advanced Audio Codec) is into use. Least application formats like ‘.ogg’, ‘.wav’ now dominate in few short sound libraries only. Moreover, these are playable in any music player. Specially, ‘.wav’ is the easiest possible readable music code. Bitrate plays an important role with the file formats. In most cases, it determines the sound quality and compatibility. Exceptionally, that law doesn’t fit proportional in the ‘.aac’ format. All thanks to the advance, well-balance and efficient codec it has.
Encryption, a very well rumoured term though not well known plays a wide role in content distribution. Entertainment companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc offer content through common ‘.mp4’, ‘.mkv’ formats but only under encryption. Digital Rights Management or DRM controls access to copyrighted material using technological means. This makes it resistant in playing in non-authorised players. Similarly, music on demand groups like Prime Music, Saavn etc. encrypt their music/song. Their file is safeguard till last mile task completion in your smart device. Any de-encryption of their content is a series offence as per T&C and guilty is legally punishable.
Their exist no system of governance to protect file system in the vast world of Informatics. Bit of information transferring around may possibly be extension of different programs simultaneously. In the event of games, where diversity in files and documents are innumerable, conflictions have become calculations of permutation. Softwares fail to identify their actual product in view of extension similarity very often. Results are crash, freezes which triggers the default antivirus management to sweep the file out. Importance of that at later moments initiates feeling of regret.
Instances related to copyright and fair play has been very irritating among the developers. Extensions when less than 4 characters gives birth to multiple claims at no digestible logic. Defending the scene came the use of 4 or more character suffixes which adds to developers’ precision. Though, future proofing could still be in a state of dilation yet this appreciable step’s results were fabulous. Microsoft Office Word in their latest line implemented the use of ‘.docx’ instead of ‘.doc’ to optimize feature compatibility and remain politics free. We can observe similar activities in new and upcoming products of other renowned developers too.