DBF format

DBF is the data file format originally used by the dBase product and now the most common PC DBMS format.

It is used by dBase, Clipper, FoxPro, and their Windows equivalents Visual dBase, Visual Objects, Visual FoxPro, Delphi, 1C and other products.

There are several different formats: dBase III, dBase IV, FoxPro, Visual FoxPro, dBase Level 7 etc.

Usually, DBF database consists of several files:

  • DBF file - contains a header with information on the data structure and the record themselves.
  • FPT or DBT file - contains content of memo fields
  • Index files (.CDX, .IDX, .MDX, .NTX, .NDX etc)
  • Additionally in Visual FoxPro:
    • Database (.dbc)
    • Form (.scx)
    • Label (.lbx)
    • Menu (.mnx)
    • Project (.pjx)
    • Report (.frx)
    • Visual Class Library (.vcx)
    You can use and browse these files in the same way that you browse any table file because these files are actually tables.

A major legacy of dBASE is its .dbf file format, which has been adopted in a number of other applications. The term XBase is often used for the group of applications.

dBASE's database system was one of the first to provide a "header" section for describing the structure of the data in the file. This meant that the program no longer required advance knowledge of the data structure, but rather could ask the data file how it was structured.