Reading .dat files on Mac OSX

Posted on 2005-05-01
Last Modified: 2012-08-14
I have downloaded some free software, all with ".dat" file extensions.  I haven't been able to open them, have tried Worldwide Notepad, and haven't been able to find out what kind of application created them.  Help!
Question by:secilian
    LVL 23

    Accepted Solution

    .dat is not very specific.  It is typically used to hold proprietary data for
    a variety of applications.  Without knowing the application used to create
    the data, it may be quite difficult to interpret the data.
    I am not aware of a Mac OS X specific application that creates files with
    .dat extensions.  

    When you "downloaded some free software":
      Where did you get it from?
      What does the software purport to do?
      Is the software provided in source form or compiled machine code (or byte code)?
      Are you sure the software is intended to run under Mac OS X?


    Author Comment

    To answer your questions, Brett:

    1. I got the software from "Macintosh Online Bible" (
    2. There are numerous files that can be downloaded, each of which purport to be a reference to various Bible topics.
    3. I don't understand the terms "source form" or "compiled machine code" or "byte code."
    4. Yes - so it claimed.

    I look forward to hearing from you again.

    LVL 23

    Expert Comment

    > 1. I got the software from "Macintosh Online Bible" (
    > 2. There are numerous files that can be downloaded, each of which purport to be a reference to various Bible topics.

    The .DAT files store the bible text with formatting information, links and references.
    They are data files read by the the Online Bible Application, which you must download and install:

    > 3. I don't understand the terms "source form" or "compiled machine code" or "byte code."

    Programs you download usually come in 3 forms:

     a.  Source Code:  Computer programs are usually written by programmers using a human-readable
    format called "source code".  It is easy for humans to read and write, but not the ideal format for
    computers to understand.  Programs in source form are not usually immediately runnable on the
    computer.  The program first needs to be "compiled" into a form the machine understands [see below]:

     b.  Compiled Machine Code: Computers best understand programs that are comprised as a series
    of binary machine instructions.   Computer programs called "Compilers" convert source code into
    machine code.    Machine Code is very specific to computer CPU and Processor combinations.  As you
    know, programs compiled for intel x86 based PCs running Windows cannot easily run on a Macintosh
    running Mac OS or on a Sun server running Solaris OS [except in emulated environments such as Virtual PC].
     That is why some programs are distributed in source form, so the user can compile the program specifically
    for their hardware and operating system.

    c. Byte Code:  Most ordinary computer users are not comfortable compiling source code in order to run
    programs.  To achieve the desired portability across computer platforms, Sun developed a programming
    language called "Java" which rather than compiling to machine code that is specific to a platform, compiles
    to a dense representation called "Byte Code".  To run the program, the computer must have a piece of
    software already installed called a byte code interpreter.  You may know this as the "Java Runtime Environment"
    or JRE.

    > 4. [Is it a Mac OS X program?] Yes - so it claimed.

    The program is actually a Mac OS 9  application that runs in "Classic emulation mode" on Mac OS X.
    The program may have some difficulties running under Mac OS X.  The company claims a Mac OS X
    version is "imminent".  However Mac OS X has been out for 5 years, so "imminent" may have a slightly
    different definition in their dictionary.

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