dBase was one of the first database management systems. Visual FoxPro, Clipper, XBase and FoxBase all use dBase's DBF file format for their database files.
Database file format dBase uses (files with extension .DBF) is well documented, which allowed many 3rd party applications to read and write DBF files. Also, many programming languages/database systems rely on DBF format. xBase is a general term describing all programming languages deriving from original dBase (Ashton-Tate) language and database format. Visual FoxPro is Microsoft’s product, derived from FoxPro (developer by Fox Software back in 1984.) FoxPro was originally named FoxBASE. Clipper was originally a compiler for dBase III (created back in 1985), sold to Computer Associates and renamed as CA-Clipper in 1992. That’s quite a rich history of some very popular products.
Like CSV files (and in smaller measure, Excel documents), DBF files are a de-facto standard for data interchange. When we compare DBF and CSV formats, DBF is superior in several ways:
• DBF is a binary format, so less space is used than in textual CSV format
• DBF tables define column data types specifically
• There are separate memo files that store large textual data, allowing for long multiline text to be stored
We have written our own direct DBF reader and writer components, very efficient and fast, allowing us to both read and write files made by any application conforming to standard DBF structure. There are several versions of DBF format and we can handle all of them.