Flat File Database

Flat File Database

What is a Flat File Database?

Unlike the relational database, a Flat File Database stores the data in a single plain text file. A flat-file can be said to have no structure. Each line in a text file contains only one record in which different fields are usually separated by a delimiter like a comma or a tab. Different database programs have the functionality to import these flat-file databases and then perform operations on them.

Flat file databases have a lot of limitations and as the size of data increases the efficiency of the flat-file systems starts to decrease.

However, flat file databases are simple and easy to understand, but they have limitations compared to other types of databases. They are not as efficient at handling large amounts of data, and they can be difficult to search and manipulate without the use of specialized tools.

Flat file databases are commonly used for small-scale applications, such as personal or small business record-keeping, and for data exchange between different systems. They can be easily transferred between different platforms and applications, as long as they are using the same delimiter and file format.

Types of Flat File Database?

There are multiple types of Flat Flat files:

  • Plain Text

  • Binary File

  • Delimited File

A plain text file usually contains symbols of natural languages. The binary file contains the sequence of binary data without any constraints. Delimited files are like a table structure and contain special characters to separate the fields, like a comma at the end of a line. Below are some common examples for flat file databases,

- CSV (Comma-Separated Values) files: CSV files are a common type of flat file database that store data in a simple text format with each field separated by a comma.

- TSV (Tab-Separated Values) files: TSV files are similar to CSV files, but use tabs instead of commas as the delimiter.

- Microsoft Excel: Excel spreadsheets can be considered as flat file databases, as they store data in a tabular format with each row representing a record and each column representing a field.

- Configuration files: Many software applications use flat file databases to store configuration information, such as settings, preferences, and other data that is not frequently updated.

- Log files: Log files, such as web server access logs, can be considered as flat file databases, as they store data in a simple text format with each line representing a record.

CSV (Comma-Separated Values) files:
John,25,New York
Mary,32,Los Angeles
David,18,San Francisco
TSV (Tab-Separated Values) files:
name    age     city
John    25      New York
Mary    32      Los Angeles
David   18      San Francisco
Microsoft Excel:
Name Age City
John 25 New York
Mary 32 Los Angeles
David 18 San Francisco
Configuration files:
# Database Configuration
database.name = "my_database"
database.host = "localhost"
database.port = 3306
database.username = "root"
database.password = "my_password"
Log files:
[2022-03-08 12:00:00] INFO: Starting web server...
[2022-03-08 12:00:10] INFO: Web server started on port 8080
[2022-03-08 12:01:00] ERROR: Internal server error occurred
[2022-03-08 12:02:30] INFO: User "john" logged in successfully

How to build a database with flat files?

Read more on how to build a database with flat files

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