As I noted in one of the design rules for software that I am trying to follow, the easiest and lightest way to handle data is in the form of plain text.
That rule got me thinking why I have been - historically - so keen on sticking with a simple, almost archaic format throughout the years, and I thought I could dump a few thoughts about that here.
Let’s start with the obvious point that plain text works across different platforms, enabling portability across many devices, applications, and technology. Plain text shows up correctly on every screen, every operating system, every device. And, as need arises, it can be formatted in any way desired once the data reaches the device.
The point above has another desired effect: plain text doesn’t age. There are no backward compatibility issues that need to be maintained. You’ll be able to open that file now and in 10 year. Yes, plain text is readable by, and writable on, almost every computing device ever made. It is also readable and writeable on all current computers, smartphones, and operating systems, with hundreds if not thousands of software applications.
Plain text is lightweight. It takes less space, can be transmitted fast and securely, and it can be compressed. This also makes things very easy to backup. You now have a large collection of possible solutions you can choose from to perform actions on your data, since everything understands plain text, and the lightness of it makes it easy to load on even the oldest systems and hardware you might have laying around.
So, in short, plain text is the way to store information in a lightweight and secure way, ensuring that the information remains accessible in the future, and by any application or device.
Yeah, it’s the way to go. Just try it. See where you land.