DBF file extension is most commonly associated with the proprietary database file format used by dBASE, though due to its initial popularity, was adopted as a standard database format by a number of applications including Sage ACT!, Microsoft Visual FoxPro and Clipper. DBF files are also used to store temporary data in Abacus Law, a legal contact management and calendaring application.
The DBF format was very popular when dBASE III was originally released as it offered a simple, easy to implement database structure which other applications could support. Though dBASE began to lose popularity as other database applications such as Paradox and Microsoft Access began to emerge, support for the DBF file format was widely retained and is still supported by many modern applications.
The data in a DBF file is stored in a database format, which consists of an array of individual records. Each record can contain multiple data items stored in fields, and will usually be referenced using a primary key. A primary key is a unique identifier and is either an incremental value stored in a field or another field containing data which will be unique to each record. Databases such as DBF files can be used to store a wide variety of data such as product information, contact details and customer accounts.
You can open DBF files natively by dBASE III and above, though the contents of the file may be specific to other applications such as Sage ACT!, Microsoft Visual FoxPro or Clipper. You can also open DBF files using the majority of database and spreadsheet applications including Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice.org Base and OpenOffice.org Calc. DBF files can also be read using Corel's Paradox dBase Viewer. DBF files created in Abacus Law contain temporary data and are usually removed automatically once the application is closed.
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