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Data Conversion

Data Conversion, as the name implies, deals with changes required to move or convert data from one physical environment format to that of another, like moving data from one electronic medium or database product onto another format.

Data conversion is technical process of changing the bits contained in the data from one format to another format for purpose of interoperability between computers. The most simple example of data conversion is a text file converted from one character encoding to another. Some of the more complex conversions involve conversion of office file formats and conversion of audio, video and image file format which needs to consider different software applications to play or display them.

To illustrate, a true color image can be easy to convert to grayscale but not the other way around. A Unix text file can be converted to Microsoft file by simply adding a CR byte but adding color information to a grayscale image cannot be programmatically dne because only human judgment can know which colors are appropriate for each section of the image; this is not rule based that can be easily done by a computer.

Despite that fact that data conversion can be done directly from format to another desire format, may application use pivotal encoding in converting data files. For instance, converting Cyrillic text files from KO18-R to Windows-1251 is possible with direct conversion using a look up table between encodings. But a more people use conversion from by first converting the KOI8-R file to Unicode before converting to Windows-1251 because of manageability benefits. Conversion with character encoding is a lot easier this way because having a lookup table and all permutations of character encodings involves hundreds of records.

There are many ways in which data is converted within the computer environment. This may be seamless, as in the case of upgrading to a newer version of a computer program. Alternatively, the conversion may require processing by the use of a special conversion program, or it may involve a complex process of going through intermediary stages, or involving complex "exporting" and "importing" procedures, which may converting to and from a tab-delimited or comma-separated text file. In some cases, a program may recognize several data file formats at the data input stage and then is also capable of storing the output data in a number of different formats. Such a program may be used to convert a file format. If the source format or target format is not recognized, then at times third program may be available which permits the conversion to an intermediate format, which can then be reformatted using the first program.